Prairie Home Companion,a - Hum A Few Bars

New Line
Duration: 105min
Category: drama
Available: On DVD
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I guess Garrison Keillor, radio host, author and general renaissance man, thought one day that it would be a good idea to make a movie about his old variety radio show A Prairie Home Companion. Sure, to a normal person this seems a bit ridiculous but once you throw Meryl Streep, Lilly Tomlin, Kevin Klien, John C. Reilly, Virginia Madsen, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones and even Lindsey Lohan along with veteran director Robert Altman into the mix, it turns into not such a bad idea after all.

A Prairie Home Companion postulates the final show of the folksy radio program after a large conglomerate has purchased the radio station and closes it down. However thatís just an excuse to do what is essentially a concert film with the stars performing their fun little numbers. Sure they throw in Madsen as an angel there to collect a dying soul and a few little backstage dramas but in reality the audience is just watching the radio show which is broadcast from a classic old theatre.

There is no one better to do this than Altman. His lyrical and rolling style is perfect for this sort of set piece. He intertwines the moments of performance with the brief moments of drama and turns the whole thing into a sentimental love in. We are here for the music.

Altman is all over the map for me. There are the brilliant Nashville, The Player and Short Cuts. There is the fun and whimsical Gosford Park. There are even his interesting misfires like Pret-a-Porter whose final nude scene is a brilliant attack on the fascism of fashion. But then there are the complete disasters like Dr. T and the Women. What theÖ huh?!?!

A Prairie Home Companion falls in the middle. Itís a pleasant diversion. I canít get enough Lilly Tomlin so itís worth it just for that. The music and the memories make it work. The curtain goes down with you humming along.

Review By: Collin Smith

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