God help him

Albert Brooks used to be funny; now, not even The Muse can help him

While admittedly much of what Brooks presents here is knowing and crisply conceived, the material turns out to be far soggier in the execution than perhaps it appeared on the page. As a satirist, Brooks is able to get in his jabs, but none of his blows against the empire registers with anything approaching lethal ferocity. In Real Life, Modern Romance, and Lost in America, Brooks established himself as the master of neurotic romanticism as well as the funniest clinical depressive of his period. But his last three films -- Defending Your Life, Mother, and now The Muse -- haven't delivered on the promise of the first three.

Puff daddy: Jeff Bridges listens to Albert Brooks kvetch, kvetch, kvetch.
Puff daddy: Jeff Bridges listens to Albert Brooks kvetch, kvetch, kvetch.


Starring Brooks, Sharon Stone, Andie MacDowell, and Jeff Bridges

Opens August 27

Official site

Directed by Albert Brooks

Written by Brooks and Monica Johnson

Brooks can still get a laugh out of most of us even when the line isn't all that funny; he has that gift. But it's not as if you don't register the faltering quality of the material even while you're laughing. He's right, too, to echo the movie's premise, that nothing drastic is called for -- just the honing of a concept here, an adjustment in the context there. Nothing that might call for an intervention by the gods.

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