A Prairie Home Companion

Bomb Rating: 

I do listen to this radio show on occasion, though it's mostly by accident. I think it comes on after the Car Guys and sometimes I just listen to it because I'm numbed into near unconsciousness by its Midwestern charm.

First of all, if you are not a listener of "A Prairie Home Companion" on National Public Radio, don't even consider going to see this movie. It would be one thing if the thing were directed by a mainstream filmmaker, but it's directed by the "legendary" Robert Altman who's done such films as "Short Cuts"and "The Player," which means that the movie does nothing more than meander all over the place for 100 minutes.

Actually, I do listen to this radio show on occasion, though it's mostly by accident. I think it comes on after the Car Guys and sometimes I just listen to it because I'm numbed into near unconsciousness by its Midwestern charm. This is not such a good thing to have happen while driving.

The premise of the film is that it's the last show of "A Prairie Home Companion" due to the fact that some rich Texan has purchased the theater where the radio show airs, no doubt a not-so-subtle jab at George W. and his party's willingness to slash funding for NPR.

Altman floats around backstage as different acts get ready to perform. Of course, there's G.K. (Garrison Keillor), the host. Then there's Lefty (John C. Reilly) and Dusty (Woody Harrelson), the singing cowboys. There are singing sisters Rhonda and Yolanda Johnson (Lily Tomlin, Meryl Streep), along with Yolanda's daugher, Lola (Lindsay Lohan). Then there's the show's producer, Molly (Maya Rudolph), regular Chuck Akers (L.Q. Jones). All are waiting for Axeman (Tommy Lee Jones), the Texan, to show. Finally, there's Guy Noir (Kevin Kline), who provides security, and the Dangerous Woman (Virginia Madsen), who's an angel, watching the show, perhaps waiting to take its soul.

In something that never even remotely approaches the concept of story, the camera just flits back and forth from one act to another, seeming content to do nothing more than catch a few minutes of down-home, homespun, Midwestern storytelling. Personally, about five minutes of such crap is too much for me. It was particularly painful watching Lindsay Lohan trying to go legit, looking confused about her surroundings and her diminished, inconsequential role in the whole thing.

There's nothing much worse than "A Prairie Home Companion," short of seeing that kind of homespun wit in person.

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