Thursday, June 29, 2006

Movie Review -- A Prairie Home Companion

I finally got around to seeing Robert Altman's latest ensemble film: A Prairie Home Companion. PHC is an odd little movie about the final episode of Garrison Keillor's real-life radio program (Keillor wrote the film and plays the lead, GK, in the film). The cast is packed full of celebrities -- Kevin Kline as the film's narrator, a security guard for the program; Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep and Meryl Streep play the singing Johnson Sisters (with Lindsey Lohan as Streep's suicidal daughter); Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly play the cowboy duo, Dusty & Lefty; and Virginia Madsen plays an angel (yes, you read that right) otherwise known as the "Dangerous Woman" who appears in the theater on its final night to....oh, I'll just let you watch the film for that. In smaller roles, Tommy Lee Jones plays a wealthy business man who has bought (and is prepared to break down) the theater and Maya Rudolph (from SNL) plays a very-pregnant stage manager.

What a fun, fun, fun movie. At one point, the guy behind me was tapping his feet so hard, my entire row was shaking. But I didn't care, because my feet were a bouncin' right with him. Streep and Tomlin, especially, are too funny for words; their comic timing is sheer perfection, and I could have watched two hours of just the two of them getting ready to perform in their dressing room. But they weren't the only amazing performances -- Reilly and Harrelson are hilarious as somewhat-raunchy cowboys; Kevin Kline is (of course, as always) his own brand of subtle humor, his "seriousness" a nice contrast to the over-the-top antics of the radio performers. And, while it was no Mean Girls or Freaky Friday, La Lohan has finally taken a brilliant turn as an actress; even though her role is supporting, she has finally stepped into adult roles in adult films, and hopefully (along with keeping on some weight) she'll continue to play such mature, complex roles. Go Lindsey! All of the actors performed their own songs, according to IMDB, live in the theater instead of in a prerecorded studio. That energy makes the movie more alive; you could tell the actors were having a fun time in their roles.

I'm kind of mixed about Virginia Madsen's role as "Dangerous Woman." It gave the movie more of a plot (beyond the closing of the theater) but it just wasn't working for me. Though I love Madsen in any role, it distracted me from the fun on stage.

But overall, this was such a fun movie, perfect for lazy summer afternoons. I give it FOUR STARS!!!


Blogger steveohville speakeasy said...

altman is so hit or miss. glad to hear that you think it hit.

no matter what, it's fun when characters start talking over each other. i usually hate director trademarks- they're usually shoehorned - but altman's is so dead-on.

10:41 PM  
Blogger greeneyes said...

Oh, I've been wanting to see this. I'm happy to hear you liked it. Thanks for the review!

9:47 AM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

Yeah, Altman is pretty dead on -- but it helps that he had such a fantastic cast!

Streep and Tomlin did a bit at the Oscars (or was it the Golden Globes?) this year that was definitely a nod to Altman; they were so brilliant. That's talent.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Vanessa said...

I adored this film as well. And although I'm a sucker for just about any film with a musical number (or two) this one was better than most.

9:19 PM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

It hasn't received the best reviews, but who cares? So much fun!

10:35 AM  

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