A Prairie Home Companion The Movie
Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin
Directed by Robert Altman
New Line Home Video 2006
106 minutes

A Prairie Home Companion The Movie will not make new converts to Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon comedy radio show but it will certainly please most fans of this public radio staple. Director Robert Altman, whose career includes brilliant movies like M*A*S*H, The Player, and Short Cuts but also includes dogs such as Dr. T and the Women and the disastrous Popeye with Robin Williams, is at the helm of A Prairie Home Companion The Movie so forget about a linear story.

Robert Altman believes in the 52 pickup card game approach when it comes to movie making and A Prairie Home Companion The Movie is no exception. The idea behind the movie is, however, simple and perfect. Basically, Garrison Keillor, GK in the movie, is giving his usual show while the man who bought the show’s home, the Fitzgerald Theatre, is coming to town to close it and tear it down. Altman simply films the last show as well as the goings on backstage.

A Prairie Home Companion The Movie features a who’s who of comedy including Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep as the Johnson Sisters musical group, and A Fish Called Wanda co-star Kevin Kline as Guy Noir, the private eye who now works security for the show. Kline is especially good as Guy Noir and you must pay attention when he is on screen because he does a whole bunch of incidental and funny slapstick things.

There is another story line in this movie involving a mysterious in a white coat who does not know what is in a ham sandwich and L.Q. Jones who plays one of the singers on the show.

Fans of the Lake Wobegon Garrison Keillor show will not only recognize characters like Dusty and Lefty, the Rich Dworsky band and other regulars but also some of the songs (like Powdermilk Biscuits) and sketches. Keillor, who wrote the script, is not above poking fun at his own show as very early joke is the show is older than Jesus Christ. They will, however be bummed by the fact there is no story from Lake Wobegon.

A Prairie Home Companion The Movie ends rather bizarrely and not like most American movies usually end.

One of the special features on the Prairie Home Companion DVD is the director’s commentary track where Altman and Kline exchange a few words here and there. This is the usual boring stuff except for when Altman audibly yawns during Lindsay Lohan’s number and he and Kline start talking about how infectious yawning is. Talk about being subtle about what you think of an actor’s performance.

This is your basic good rental. Then again, it is getting harder and harder to find certain titles to rent so maybe getting the DVD is not a bad idea.