A Prairie Home Companion

MPAA Rated – PG-13
It’s 1:45 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

A Prairie Home Companion
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Woody Harrelson, L.Q. Jones, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Picturehouse Films
Kiddie Movie: They won’t get the jokes and the teens might not like the music.
Date Movie: You’ve both got to appreciate radio variety shows.
Gratuitous Sex: Lots of innuendo.
Gratuitous Violence: Nope.
Action: Nope.
Laughs: Lots of chuckles and some good laughs.
Memorable Scene: Nothing really stands out.
Memorable Quote: It goes something like: “I asked ‘What are you here for?’ ‘Liquor,’ she said, and lick her I did, and I don’t work there anymore.”
Directed By: Robert Altman
Produced By: Robert Altman, Wren Arthur, Joshua Astrachan, Tony Judge, David Levy

I vaguely recollect, as a youngster, going to see a sort of vaudeville/variety show at our local theater, and enjoying it. The music was campy, the characters had, well, character, and it just seemed like a fun time all around. Seeing “A Prairie Home Companion” sort of brought me back to that time, and I had a fun time all around for this movie, except for two old ladies in the audience, but I’ll save that for my blog. Anyway, let’s get to the movie…

I’m not sure of all of the particulars of this movie, nor am I one for much investigative work, but supposedly the movie reflects an actual radio variety show set in the same Fitzgerald Theater in Minnesota. For our movie the radio station has been sold to some dude from Texas, and this will be the last show for “A Prairie Home Companion.” All of the characters, and there is a huge cast of characters, seem to have their own way of dealing with the demise of the only life they’ve know for the last thirty-some years, and we get to see it all, complete with lots of variety-show type music and some mysticism in the fact that this will be the final episode of the show, as well as the final night for some of the characters, thanks to the arrival of Dangerous Woman (Virginia Madsen). The show goes on, the show ends, and life goes on, for most of them.

I know that’s sort of a short synopsis, but the movie doesn’t really seem to have a set “story,” but rather just tries to show the tales of everyone involved in this last performance, and it’s those performances that hold the movie together. First we are introduced to Guy Noir (Kevin Kline). He’s a private investigator who is relegated to security for the show due to the lack of any real work for a private investigator in a Minnesota town. He sets up the story, is quirky thinking Dangerous Woman has a thing for him, and shows that he really isn’t a good private investigator when a cast member dies. Garrison Keillor is G.K. He’s sort of the ringleader for the show, giving the lead-ins for the various acts, voicing the commercials, and even singing along with the various characters at times. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin play Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson, singing sisters for the show, who spend the night reflecting on how their lives have turned out. The cornballs of the show are Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly as Dusty and Lefty. They are supposed to be a couple of cowboys fresh off the range, turning songs into corny jokes and being risqué. And in a role that shows if she could get out of the dorky film roles she has been stuck in, Lindsay Lohan did a fantastic job as Lola, the daughter of Yolanda, fascinated with suicide and wondering about her own future.

All of our characters intertwine, as we would expect, during the backstage scenes, and it is here where the stories take place. No one can understand why G.K. won’t announce to the audience that this is their last show nor the death of one of the cast, to which G.K. retorts that every show is the last show, and that he doesn’t do eulogies. Yolanda hopes that there might be time at the end for Lola to get on stage, and low and behold there is, and as the movie comes to an end, Dangerous Woman is back, but Guy wonders who she is there for. We don’t find out.

Me, I liked this movie a lot, but you might not, and that’s okay, because this is definitely not a movie for everyone. Pretty much if you hate bluegrass-ish or vaudeville style music, well, you will hate this movie because there is a lot of it present in the movie. And if you want a totally cohesive story, well, you won’t get that from “A Prairie Home Companion” either. But if you’ve ever enjoyed a variety-style show, enjoy a lot of sexual innuendos jokes, and can get through the mysticism part of Dangerous Woman, you will most likely enjoy this movie a lot.

The movie itself was great for me, but what also blew me away was Robert Altman’s, and I guess it was his call, use of mirrors during many of the behind-the-scenes scenes. It gave the movie much different affect, and limited, I suppose, the need to shoot scenes multiple times from multiple angles, allowing all of the characters to feed off of each other for the entire scene with the mirrors enabling their faces to remain in the scene. Okay, that was way to hard to explain, so I’ll just wrap this review by giving “A Prairie Home Companion” 4 ½ stars out of 5. But please, take my warning about the music and jokes appropriately, because I don’t see many middle-of-the-road people for this film. You will either like it or hate it. I liked it.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!