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A Prairie Home Companion (2006)

tomatometer

81

Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 191
Fresh: 155 | Rotten: 36

The final film by the great Robert Altman, A Prairie Home Companion, the big screen adaptation of Garrison Keillor's radio broadcast, showcases plenty of the director's strengths: it's got a gigantic cast and plenty of quirky acting and dialogue. Much like the radio show, Companion features clever jokes, rousing tunes, and endearing characters. With strong work from Lindsay Lohan, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Tommy Lee Jones, it's a worthy swan song from one of the cinema's best.

75

Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 44
Fresh: 33 | Rotten: 11

The final film by the great Robert Altman, A Prairie Home Companion, the big screen adaptation of Garrison Keillor's radio broadcast, showcases plenty of the director's strengths: it's got a gigantic cast and plenty of quirky acting and dialogue. Much like the radio show, Companion features clever jokes, rousing tunes, and endearing characters. With strong work from Lindsay Lohan, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Tommy Lee Jones, it's a worthy swan song from one of the cinema's best.

audience

59

liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 83,675

My Rating

Movie Info

Acclaimed filmmaker Robert Altman (Short Cuts, Nashville) brings National Public Radio stalwart Garrison Keillor's long-running radio program to vivid life on the big screen in a intricately woven backstage fable centering on the final performance of a fictionalized version of his variety show. As if the result of some strange mass-media fluke, the popular radio program A Prairie Home Companion somehow managed to survive the television age to entertain its audience every Saturday night from the

PG-13,

Comedy

Garrison Keillor

Nov 9, 2004

$20.2M

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All Critics (198) | Top Critics (46) | Fresh (155) | Rotten (36) | DVD (21)

The movie, redolent of death, is a sort of wake, but a funny-sad one, teeming with music, corny jokes, and an ensemble of gifted performers who appear to be having an obscene amount of fun in one another's company.

January 6, 2007 Full Review Source: New York Magazine
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Just lovely, and a magnificently enjoyable coda to an extraordinary career.

January 4, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It sparkles with a magic all its own as an engagingly performed piece of Midwestern whimsy and stoicism. Mr. Altman's flair for ensemble spectacle and seamless improvisation in the midst of utter chaos is as apparent as ever.

June 14, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What a lovely film this is, so gentle and whimsical, so simple and profound.

June 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (4)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Either you like that brand of music and humor or you don't. I am not a huge fan.

June 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Pass the Powdermilk Biscuits, slice the pie and serve the corn.

June 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's remarkable how charitable, on the whole, this movie feels; in all of the previous examples, the vision of pop and people is at best tangled, at worst jaundiced.

March 5, 2014 Full Review Source: Stop Smiling
Stop Smiling

...for the uninitiated, the story meanders far too much to resonate, and Altman's relentless focus on mortality dampens the show's amiable charm.

April 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

It looks and feels like an Altman film, but one made completely on a pointless lark.

August 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

Life is fleeting, but A Prairie Home Companion, slender and perfect, proves that art endures as a reminder of it

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

It is obviously the film of a master and certainly feels like a swan song.

November 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Bright Lights Film Journal
Bright Lights Film Journal

Swan songs are seldom as sweet or melodic as A Prairie Home Companion.

August 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

The movie is a shaggy-dog trifle, but it's a sweet and lovely one.

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Altman's star-studded cast is natural and energetic -- with the exception of a surprisingly detached Keillor -- and the Hollywood folks mingle easily, in character, among the real show's performers, a technique Altman perfected in Nashville.

June 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

...a lovely and bittersweet fable about morality, the fleetingness of fame, drawing strength from the past and finding the inevitable beauty in the darkest of situations.

February 28, 2008 Full Review Source: BrandonFibbs.com
BrandonFibbs.com

In its neatest trick of all, the script circumvents any criticism of its lack of timeliness by very literally casting the proceedings under a shadow of death.

February 1, 2008 Full Review Source: Cinematical
Cinematical

Alternatively wistful and satirical, Prairie isn't an Altman classic, but it's a fine time.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Big Picture Big Sound
Big Picture Big Sound

This adaptation is highly-recommended for loyal devotees of the long-running radio show as a cinematic capstone on Keillor's magnificent career.

June 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Richmond Post
Richmond Post

La despedida de Robert Altman no está entre lo mejor de su obra, pero es una cálida evocación de tiempos y ritos pasados animada por un atractivo elenco.

June 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

[Altman's] trademark techniques...lend themselves perfectly to the setting, but his ability to coax remarkable performances from an array of actors has rarely served him better.

February 22, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Plenty of artistry, even if it is a minor Altman film. So long, Robert.

January 20, 2007 Full Review Source: Cinemania

It's a warm and dignified end to a sometimes erratic but often enthralling career.

January 9, 2007 Full Review Source: BBC

It's a lovely and loving film.

January 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

A fitting swansong for Altman's career, this is an enjoyable comedy drama with strong performances, lively musical numbers and a handful of decent jokes.

January 4, 2007 Full Review Source: ViewLondon
ViewLondon

Audience Reviews for A Prairie Home Companion

Found some of it funny and charming but given the talents involved I might have hoped for more. Some of the improvs seemed clumsy and I just didn't buy some of the characters. A little too much music?
December 2, 2007
brooklynspo

Super Reviewer

Altman's final film is a touching meditation on death and changing of the times. With a great ensemble, Altman delivers his swan song.
October 27, 2011
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

First off, Garrison Keillor is a national treasure, and as an occassional listener of the real A Prairie Home Companion, I was delighted that they had decided to make a movie centered around it, and that I finally saw it.

This is a look at the (fictional) last show of the long running radio show (performed on stage in front of live audiences) that is an ode to old timey radio shows, Americana, and folksy, old time music. The show itself is also very much a legit member of the very thing it is an homage to, and I will be really bummed out when it does end for real.

Even though this is fictionalized, it's a fascinating look at what likely goes on during and behind the scenes of a show like this, made more dramatic by the fact that this scenario positis that the showing being done is the final one. The film is an elegy (on multiple levels) as is a real meditation on the past, death, endings, and questions of the future, though it mostly focuses on the past. It all sounds heavy and somber, but it's actually presented in a very light and bittersweet way, and I think that, as Robert Altman's final film, it was a great way for him to end his lengthy career.

I have no doubt he knew this was his final film, but I'd like to believe that the film's themes and mood were planned that way from the get go, and that they're made more powerful because he was dying and knew this would be his last hurrah. This makes it a bit more haunting, but death is presented in a rather gentle and calm way, despite the lingering somber undertones.

In typical Altman style this has naturalistic, improvised, yet stylized feel to it, filled with long takes, a continually moving (no matter how subtle) camera, and of course, a sprawling ensemble cast filled with many notable names from Keillor to Kevin Kline, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Lily Tomlin, and Meryl Streep among others. Even Lindsey Lohan shows up and does a decent job. In fact, there's not really a bad performance to be found, and that includes the musical numbers and not just the acting.

I actually rather like the film's loose plot about the scenario with the show, although I am bummed that there's no "News from Lake Wobegon" segment. I think that might be my only real complaint to be honest. Given that I'm not as well versed in Altman as I'd like (though I'll be watching and reviewing two more of his films within the next few days) I maintain that this is a good film for him to go out on, though I think an Altman diehard might be more qualified to answer that. I have no idea what people who aren't fans or familiar with the show and the type of music it features would think of this movie, but I like it.

I'd like to think that if you enjoy quaintness, nostalgia, and get a warm fuzzy feeling when you reminisce about small towns, the good old days, and simpler times ,then you miht just get something out of this if you give it a watch.
October 13, 2011
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • A Prairie Home Companion: Last Radio Show (DE)
  • Ciné Pôle Sud (The Last Show) (FR)
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