Kick up your heels and sit back for a wild ride in A Prairie Home Companion. Based on the long-running radio show by Garrison Keillor, this light-hearted movie is perfect for fans of the show.
The lead and host of the show, GK, is played by none other than Garrison Keillor himself, but the movie is narrated by Guy Noir, the studio’s slightly clumsy detective played by Kevin Kline. The show includes acts by Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep as the Johnson sisters, Rhonda and Yolanda, with a special performance by Streep’s black-nailed, death-obsessed daughter, Lola (played by Lindsay Lohan). Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly play Dusty and Lefty, the crude but amusing singing cowboy duo, and there are some beautiful solos and duets by Jearlyn Steele and several songs by GK and the band.
But there is much more to the story than what goes on onstage. Maya Rudolph, as Molly, plays an hilariously apathetic stage hand (who lets loose a bit with a little champagne though she is obviously pregnant), and Tom Keith plays the sound effects man who adds a bit of color to the already colorful cast.
While the film is entertaining and is sure to delight fans of the radio show, the plot leaves much to be desired. The premise of the story is that the Minnesota show has been bought out by a Texan and will be shut down-the story mostly unfolds throughout the night of the last performance. While the plot includes a mysterious “angel” dressed in a long white trench coat (Virginia Madsen) who keeps showing up in odd places (and seems more creepy than angelic), death, and the “Axeman” (the Texan who has bought out the company, played by Tommy Lee Jones), the plot is anticlimactic; it’s obvious the point of the movie is to give PHC radio fans a chance to see their favorite show on screen.
That being said, the anecdotes the people in the acts tell backstage are entertaining, particularly GK’s and the Johnson sisters; while the sisters are the epitome of old southern bell, the young Lola (as Yolanda Johnson’s daughter) is the typical hate-the-world teenager with torn jeans and the perfect comedic complement to the sisters.
All in all, A Prairie Home Companion is light-hearted and fun-in the style of Drop Dead Gorgeous, it has a documentary feel to it with a farcical edge. While lacking in story, it is still entertaining and worth seeing-though perhaps waiting until it comes out on video would be a good idea.
Rating: 5 out of 5