Muse, The (1998): Albert Brooks’ Inside-Hollywood Comedy, Starring Oscar Winner Jeff Bridges and Oscar Nominee Carol Channing

With the aptly titled The Muse, the quintessentially indie director-star Albert Brooks, along with his reliable co-writer Monica Johnson, has concocted an amusing comedy about the inner workings of Hollywood.

Brooks plays Steven Phillips, a scripter told by a studio exec that he is a has-been and washed-up.  When he goes to Jack Warrick (Jeff Bridges), commercially a successful scribe, for an advice, Warrick offers Steven his unusual muse as inspiration and a way out from his rut.

Sarah, the muse, is played by Sharon Stone with a droll and sensuous comedic sense in what’s her strongest turn since Scorsese’ crime-drama “Casino,” for which she was Oscar-nominated.  Not surprisingly, Sarah proves to be high-maintenance, to put it bluntly, what with staying at the chic Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.  Even so, a parade of directors (with cameos by James Cameron, Scorsese, and Rob Reiner, among others) stop to thank her for “The American President.”  But is she really worth the price tag?

Though stuck with a more conventional part, Andie MacDowell is also decent as Steven’s wife, who suddenly decides to take in Sarah to live in their home, which disrupts any sense of order, of course.

As expected, Brooks is well cast in what has become his specialty, an anxiety-ridden, neurotic, perpetually humiliated lad who’s just trying, as he says, “to cope with existence without the benefit of an instruction manual.”

The satirical view of studio mores and cultural rites of Hollywood are entertainingly on target, if also largely familiar.  At one point, Steve is trying to make a meeting with another Steven, Spielberg, except that he is denied the privilege of parking access.



Albert Brooks (Steven Phillips)

Sharon Stone (Sarah)

Andie MacDowell (Laura Phillips)

Jeff Bridges (Jack Warrick)

Mark Feuerstein (Josh Martin).



October Releasing

Director: Albert Brooks

Producer: Herb Nanas

Exec-Producter: Barry Berg

Screenplay: Albert Brooks and Monica Johnson

Camera: Thomas Ackerman

Editor: Peter Teschner

Costumes: Betsy Cox

Music: Elton John

Production Design: Dina Lipton

Art Direction: Marc Dabe

Set Decoration: Anne D. McCulley


Running Time: 97 Minutes