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Prairie Home Companion

A Prairie Home Companion

4.0 4
Director: Robert Altman

Cast: Garrison Keillor, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin

Acclaimed filmmaker Robert Altman (Short Cuts, Nashville) brings National Public Radio stalwart Garrison Keillor's long-running radio program to vivid life on the big screen in a intricately woven backstage fable centering on the final


Acclaimed filmmaker Robert Altman (Short Cuts, Nashville) brings National Public Radio stalwart Garrison Keillor's long-running radio program to vivid life on the big screen in a intricately woven backstage fable centering on the final performance of a fictionalized version of his variety show. As if the result of some strange mass-media fluke, the popular radio program A Prairie Home Companion somehow managed to survive the television age to entertain its audience every Saturday night from the stage of the historic Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN. Week after week, hangdog host Garrison Keillor serves as unflappable emcee to an amiable hodgepodge of radio-friendly acts that include the likes of popular country duo Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson (Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin) and singing cowboys the Old Trailhands (Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly). This is one show where the under-the-line antics are nearly as entertaining as the program itself, though, and in between the efforts of down-on-his-luck private dick and backstage doorkeeper Guy Noir (Kevin Kline) to discover the true identity of a mysterious blonde (Virginia Madsen) and aspiring teen singer Lola (Lindsay Lohan) to find her true voice before a live audience, there's still plenty of fun and mystery to be had at the old Fitzgerald before the final curtain falls on A Prairie Home Companion.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Garrison Keillor's much-beloved public-radio variety show comes to the screen as a delightful all-star extravaganza that, despite its present-day setting, affectionately recalls a bygone era. Written by Keillor and directed by Robert Altman, A Prairie Home Companion whisks viewers back to a time when radio broadcasts were performed before live audiences, actors might miss cues, and sound-effects men worked furiously with primitive equipment to make the appropriate noises. The film, which presents Keillor's show in a fictional context, isn't heavily plot-driven. It follows what is supposed to be the show’s final broadcast, which puts all the characters at a crossroads. There’s also a mystery of sorts involving detective Guy Noir (Kevin Kline) and a trench-coated blonde beauty (Virginia Madsen), which licenses Kline’s most inspired hamming since A Fish Called Wanda. Like the best of Altman’s films, though, Prairie is carried by a variegated cast of characters involved in minor interwoven dramas, skillfully drawn by resourceful actors encouraged to improvise. Especially satisfying in this regard is the story line that casts Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin as a rootsy singing-sister act and Lindsay Lohan as single mom Streep’s cranky and, at least at the beginning, non-performing daughter. Equally amusing are Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly as a pair of cowboy singers prone to injecting more double-entendre into their act than is called for. And of course, there's Keillor himself, dubbed merely “GK” here, an odd-looking duck whose rich, silky-smooth voice complements his image as a laid-back, bemused participant amid these gently eccentric goings-on. Tasty, if not particularly expeditious, this thoroughly successful Altman-Keillor collaboration is sure to delight fans of these two uniquely American talents.
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
This big-screen adaptation of Garrison Keillor's long-running radio show A Prairie Home Companion, directed by an octogenarian Robert Altman, offers a beautiful synthesis of two unique artistic visions. Both an ode to old-time radio while a sly parody of it, Keillor's program has always attempted to achieve nostalgia through humor, music, and song. His pining for a lost time carries over to the fictional version of the show presented in the film, but Altman, just a few years removed from a heart transplant, obviously has mortality on his mind. He infuses this material with a sense of foreboding that dovetails nicely with Keillor's nostalgia to create a somber, downright sad film that still manages to produce smiles and laughs thanks to the actors and the performance material. Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep play a sister singing act, and their conversations in the film offer a clear example of everything that Altman does well with actors. To each other, and to Streep's daughter (a very game Lindsay Lohan), they spend much of the film telling long, rambling stories to each other about the history of their family during which they step on each others lines, digress to seemingly random topics, and offer unexpected but truthful emotional expressions of love and grief. Altman gives them plenty of room in the frame, so much so that after a while the audience may feel like they are eavesdropping on the conversations rather than watching written material being performed. Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly perform a hilarious song about telling dirty jokes, and the scenes of Streep and Tomlin singing together on-stage are as subtly and fully engaging as their dialogue scenes. Although A Prairie Home Companion will probably never be considered among Altman's classic works, it does offer the opportunity to witness a great artist never questioning the purpose of creating art and entertainment even as death feels closer than ever before.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
New Line Home Video
Region Code:
[Wide Screen, Color]
[Dolby Digital Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Additional Scenes; Behind-the-scenes documentary; Commentary with famed director Robert Altman and Kevin Kline

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Garrison Keillor Garrison Keillor
Meryl Streep Yolanda Johnson
Lily Tomlin Rhonda Johnson
Kevin Kline Guy Noir
Lindsay Lohan Lola Johnson
John C. Reilly Lefty
Woody Harrelson Dusty
Virginia Madsen Asphodel
Maya Rudolph Molly
Tommy Lee Jones The Axeman
Tim Russell Stage Manager
Susan Scott Makeup Lady
L.Q. Jones Chuck Akers
Marylouise Burke Lunch Lady

Technical Credits
Robert Altman Director,Producer
Wren Arthur Producer
Joshua Astrachan Producer
Vebe Borge Asst. Director
Jacob Craycroft Editor
Lowell Dubrinsky Associate Producer
Richard Dworsky Musical Arrangement
Dina Goldman Production Designer
Tony Judge Producer
Garrison Keillor Original Story,Screenwriter
Drew Kunin Sound/Sound Designer
Edward Lachman Cinematographer
Ken LaZebnik Original Story
David Levy Producer
Pam Dixon Casting
John Penotti Executive Producer
William Pohlad Executive Producer
Jeff Schoen Art Director
George Sheanshang Executive Producer
Fisher Stevens Executive Producer
Catherine Marie Thomas Costumes/Costume Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Prairie Home Companion
0. Main Titles
2. Guy Noir
3. Preshow Prep
4. On the Air
5. Slow Days of Summer
6. End of an Era
7. Softly and Tenderly
8. Old Plank Road
9. My Minnesota Home
10. Chuck
11. Whoop-I-Ti-Yi-Yo
12. Happy Baked Beans
13. Gold Watch & Chain
14. Duct Tape
15. Lighthouse
16. "I'm Not Here for You"
17. The Day Is Short
18. Axeman
19. Guy's Favor
20. Goodbye to My Mama
21. Bad Jokes
22. Frankie & Johnny
23. Red River Valley
24. A Prairie Home Reunion
25. End Credits


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A Prairie Home Companion 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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