That’s All, Folksy Folks!

Well, a pleasant day to all you folks out there and welcome to another edition of “I Watched This Movie.” This is brought to you by Word Press.

The featured movie today is Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” which is based on a real-life radio program of the same name. The movie’s plot concerns the radio show’s supposed last broadcast. The station has decided to axe “Companion,” since this is the type of variety show that should’ve faded decades ago. It’s basically a show consisting of live performances of product jingles, folksy tunes, and great bantering among the singers. Screenplay writer Garrison Keillor is the wry host. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin perform as the sister act, Johnson Girls. Lindsay Lohan plays Streep’s suicidal teen daughter. Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly play the mischievous cowboys Dusty and Lefty. Meanwhile, Kevin Kline narrates the movie as a guy named Guy Noir and Virginia Madsen plays a mysterious beauty in a white trench coat.

I think “A Prairie Home Companion” is a delight in its own ways. It seems like a fun radio show to do. The characters themselves are an interesting lot – with singers who come up with songs at the drop of a hat, in relation to an ongoing conversation. The cast itself is wonderfully put together. The versatile Meryl Streep dazzles again with a new talent: singing vocals that amazingly fit the genre. And her overlapping chitchats with Tomlin (previewed at the last Oscar telecast) are unspoiled Altmanesque moments. Harrelson and Reilly are a funny pair to watch. And I thought Virginia Madsen is the just the perfect actress to play the woman in trench coat. And Lindsay Lohan? Well, she’s okay too.

As for the featured songs, they’re not what I’m accustomed to but they’re not jarring to the ears. I especially liked the jingles about rhubarb pies, black coffee, shoes, and powder milk biscuits. And finally, there’s the spontaneity of a live broadcast – with Garrison Keillor proving to be a master of improvisation. My eyes were taped to a particularly sticky scene where he just kept going on and on about duct tape. “A Prairie Home Companion” is an entertaining film, assembled and brought to life as only director Robert Altman can do. It’s folksy and charming, but it didn’t leave me wanting more. I surmise though that those who will truly love this movie are the ones who already love the show.

And that’s the end of another “Movie Afterthought,” brought to you by Word Press. I’ll be back at the same site, at the same month, with a different entry.

Grade: B+

Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen,, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Marylouise Burke, and L.Q. Jones
Screenplay by
Garrison Keillor
Directed by
Robert Altman
Rated PG-13 for risque humor