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A Prairie Home Companion (2006)


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

Critics Consensus: 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.

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 46
Fresh: 35
Rotten: 11

Critics Consensus: 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.


Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 83,752




Movie Info

Director Robert Altman and writer Garrison Keillor join forces with an all-star cast to create a comic backstage fable, "A Prairie Home Companion," about a fictitious radio variety show that has managed to survive in the age of television. On a rainy Saturday night in St. Paul, Minn., fans file into the Fitzgerald Theater to see "A Prairie Home Companion," a staple of radio station WLT, not knowing that WLT has been sold to a Texas conglomerate and that tonight's show will be the last. Shot … More

PG-13 (for risque humor)
Directed By:
Written By:
Garrison Keillor
In Theaters:
Nov 9, 2004
Box Office:
Picturehouse - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for A Prairie Home Companion

All Critics (198) | Top Critics (48) | 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.

Full Review… | January 6, 2007
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | January 4, 2007
Time Out
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 14, 2006
New York Observer
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 14, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 12, 2006
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

Altman and Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion is fittingly both a celebration and a winning example of the joys of collaboration.

Full Review… | June 9, 2006
AV Club
Top 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.

Full Review… | March 5, 2014
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.

Full Review… | April 20, 2011
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

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

Full Review… | August 24, 2010
Cinema Writer

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

Full Review… | August 30, 2009

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

Full Review… | November 25, 2008
Bright Lights Film Journal

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

Full Review… | August 13, 2008

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

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
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.

Full Review… | June 8, 2008
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.

Full Review… | February 28, 2008

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.

Full Review… | February 1, 2008

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

Full Review… | July 14, 2007
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.

Full Review… | June 16, 2007
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.

Full Review… | June 3, 2007
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.

Full Review… | February 22, 2007
Film Journal International

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

Full Review… | January 20, 2007

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

Full Review… | January 9, 2007

It's a lovely and loving film.

Full Review… | January 6, 2007

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.

Full Review… | January 4, 2007

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?

Bob Stinson

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.

Graham Jones
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.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

"A Prairie Home Companion" is a downright fabulous movie. If you are a fan of the show, the old fashioned country music or the good old days of radio, you are bound to enjoy the film. The cast works wonders and every actor delivers a fun performance. I love how Robert Altman and Garrison Keillor shape their film into something that is both a loving tribute to radio but is also blazingly cinematic, a film that is as much about life as it is death, a film that is is extremely precise in it's execution but couldn't seem more free.

(Watching "A Prairie Home Companion" all these years later, knowing full well that the death of Robert Altman happened months after it's release, ends up being a prophetic and haunting experience.)

Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer

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