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MOVIE REVIEWS BY DAVE SMITH

 

81-year-old director Robert Altman said he had to get a back-up director for this film "in case I croak." Altman didn't croak and this film is all the better for it. Garrison Keillor who created the well- known NPR radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, wrote the screenplay and leads a top notch cast which includes, Meryl Streep, Lilly Tomlin, Kevin Kline, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Tommy Lee Jones and Lindsay Lohan. The premise is that the radio show, after 32 years on the air is about to be cancelled so the theatre can be torn down to make room for a parking lot. The whole movie centers around the last broadcast.

This is a film which will appeal to those who don't care about a plot. Like Sienfield, it's almost a show about nothing. Altman never has any problem getting well known actors to play in his movies. He is an actor's director and the actors know it. He gives them free rein and a lot of the dialogue is made up on the spot. Meryl Streep who just played one of the most sophisticated women of today in "The Devil Wears Prada" transforms herself into a country singer. As the Johnson Sisters, she and Lilly Tomlin do several duets using their own very good singing voices. Woody Harrelson and the multi-talented John C. Reilly are cowboys who sing songs about bad jokes. Kevin Kline plays Guy Noir, a down-on-his-luck private dectective who is now a security guard at the theatre.

Keillor holds the whole thing together with his effortless manner while showing off one of the best voices ever heard on radio. Keillor doesn't seem to mind that the show is going off the air. He seems ready to just call it quits and go on to something else...whatever that may be. The secret to the success of this film are the actors and the characters they portray. They are all fascinating personalities. They wander on and off camera with reckless abandon. This film may not be a "Nashville" or a "MASH" but who could ask for more than a film which combines the talents of a Garrison Keillor and a Robert Altman?

 

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