Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Prairie Home Companion Movie Review

by Jon Byrer, KankaNation Legal Analyst and Movie Critic

If I had to describe this movie, I wouldn't use words like "good" or "bad", I'd be more likely to say "bone-crushingly disappointing."

Garrison Keillor has always struck me as a fantastic storyteller. Having grown up in a small town myself, his stories about his fictional hometown in Minnesota always struck a particular chord for me. He could always manage to tell the sort of stories that were both poignant and funny at the same time, evoking laughter one moment, and nearly bringing you to tears the next.

It was with this in mind that I insisted to my friends that we go see the Prairie Home Companion movie last night. Instead of classic Keillor storytelling, however, we get Meryl Streep playing what is perhaps her most unlikable character, a near-mad singer who blathers on and on in some of the movie's most awkward moments.

Also, an odd angelic figure constantly makes an appearance throughout the movie. The figure only has one good piece of dialogue, when describing how she died while reacting to a joke told on the radio show ("Two penguins were sitting on an iceberg. One says to the other, 'You look like you're wearing a tuxedo.' The other says, 'What makes you think I'm not?'") Otherwise, she is merely awkward and somewhat creepy.

Though the film was supposed to be a poignant look at the last broadcast of the radio show, the script never really makes you feel sad that the show is coming to an end (which is odd considering that I personally think it would be a disaster if the show ever were to be cancelled). The only time I felt really sad throughout the film was with the resolution of the romance between two of the elderly cast members, which might have been the best side-story in the movie.

Throughout the film, Keillor was outstanding, and I wish the directors would have focused more on him instead of the Streep psycho-character. Keillor continues to be everything that Hollywood is not, rising above the things that makes modern movies so downright terrible. It was a shame that the director saw necessary to focus on Hollywood hacks like Lindsey Lohan, who once again showed that she can't really act, even when blonde.

Overall, if I had to make a recommendation regarding this film, it would be 1) buy the soundtrack, which is phenomenal; and 2) go to the Prairie Home Companion website and listen an episode of the radio show instead. The radio show is much more fun, and isn't marred by the weirdness and Hollywood crap that ruined this movie. And it's free, which is always a good thing.

Final rating: 2 stars (out of 5).