Published Feb 01, 2000I think Albert Brooks (Modern Romance, Lost in America) is one of the sharpest comic talents in America, but I don't think I'd use The Muse to prove my point. It's a gentle satire on Hollywood, and there's your first clue - Hollywood doesn't deserve gentle. Instead of making actual jokes about James Cameron, Brooks gets him to do a lame cameo in which Cameron asks the Muse (Sharon Stone) if he should make a sequel to Titanic. A lot of the humour is even a bit sycophantic. Rob Reiner appears as himself and thanks the Muse for The American President. (Did anyone think that movie was anything but mediocre?) Stone plays the Muse as a flaky, pampered middle-aged woman who has an alleged reputation for inspiring all of the best Hollywood films, and Brooks plays a one-time A-list screenwriter who enlists her services. She provides him with only the most scatter-brained inspiration (an impromptu visit to the "Aquarium of the Pacific"), but he runs with it anyway (he writes a big summer comedy in which Jim Carrey inherits an aquarium).
There are moments of real incisiveness in The Muse, like the scenes between Brooks and a smarmy junior studio executive, but overall there's just too much flab. The supporting performances from Andie MacDowell and (surprisingly) Jeff Bridges, are bland and ill defined. The most memorable character in the film ends up being Martin Scorsese, who is only on screen for about a minute. He does an over-caffeinated parody of himself, blithering away a mile a minute about a remake of Raging Bull, "But with a really thin guy! I'm talkin' thin! Thin and angry!"