Prairie Home Companion

Keillor, Streep, Kline Et Al. Are Good Company

Main Cast: Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Kline, Garrison Keillor

Director: Robert Altman

Plot Summary: The last broadcast of a long-running radio show is captured in all its glory, with singing cowboys and an angel walking the sets.

220px-Aphc_movieposterInfused with Garrison Keillor’s brand of gentle humor, this movie focuses on a broadcast of his famed radio variety show. All the regulars are on hand: Yolanda and Rhonda, the Johnson Sisters (Streep and Tomlin), Dusty and Lefty the singing Cowboys (Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly), Lola, Yolanda’s daughter (Lindsay Lohan), and the major domo of sorts, the 1940s private eye Guy Noir (Kline).

They, along with a colorful collection of other cast members, form a close community within their home in the theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota. There is a problem, however: the place was sold to a big company, so this is the last show. Such an event must not go without its quirky problems and situations. The “Axeman” (Tommy Lee Jones) arrives to look the place over, but more supernaturally, an angel (Virginia Madsen) walks silently back stage, acting as a sort of guide to us as we watch the action unfold.

Being a city folk, I am sure I missed some of the subtle humor aimed at the subject of Keillor’s expertise. But I did pick up on the mood, if not particulars. This is no light comedy or deep drama, but a mixture of both. And, of course, a musical: there is much singing and dancing, all entertaining. And, of course, Keillor takes to the mike as genial host and guru.

A few things were jarring to me (the whole duct tape bit went on for too long, and the fate of the Axeman seemed superficial and, ultimately, futile), but overall I enjoyed this trip down nostalgia lane. The characters were colorful and real, the situations not over the top but quietly humorous, and the music and singing whimsical.

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