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A Prairie Home Companion [DVD]

49 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan
  • Directors: Robert Altman
  • Producers: Robert Altman, Wren Arthur, Joshua Astrachan, Tony Judge, Levy David
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Universal
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Jun. 2007
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000O78EXO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,011 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Robert Altman directs this comedy about the last night of a long-running country and western radio programme and the characters who have kept it going over the years. Security man Guy Noir (Kevin Kline) is in reflective mood and his voice provides the narrative for the film. The station's owners have decided to axe the show and have sent in Axeman (Tommy Lee Jones) to put the nails in the coffin. While the production is in progress, under the dulcet tones of MC Garrison Keillor (who wrote the original radio show on which the film is based), an angel (Virginia Madsen), who has come for one of the cast, stalks the studio. Noir kind of takes a shine to her. The cast of country stars, and their reveries about the show's past, start to come out as the night goes on; among them singing cowboys Dusty and Lefty (Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly), sisters Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson (Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep), and Yolanda's maudlin, suicide-fixated daughter Lola (Lindsay Lohan).

From Amazon.co.uk

Robert Altman and Garrison Keillor combine reality and fantasy in this smooth, ebullient take on the long-running Prairie Home Companion radio show. Set during the show's fictitious last broadcast--the host station has been bought--the film has plenty of elements from the real PHC radiocasts, including a live audience and the sensational Shoe band. The onstage program is mostly music numbers, a beguiling mix of standards and old-style country. However, the show's usual comedy sketches are never presented, save for the commercial parodies--this may be a PHC show, but Lake Wobegone is never mentioned. Instead, the sketches are played out as backstage banter that feautres the Johnson Sisters (Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin), a harried stage hand (Maya Rudolph), a former listener turned angel (Virginia Madsen), and Keillor himself (a crusty alter-ego named simply G.K.). A few characters from the real PHC are given life: the singing cowboys Dusty and Lefty and gumshoe Guy Noir are embodied by Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, and Kevin Kline, respectively. Old flames are fanned, stories are spun, new talents are found (Lindsay Lohan has a chance to shine as Streep's daughter) and everyone wonders if G.K. will do something to ebb the tide of cancellation (personified by Tommy Lee Jones as the corporate Axeman). All of the actors do right as singers, and seem to be having the time of their life. Keillor's screenplay is perfect fodder for Altman's usual brand of storytelling, as characters babble on with the camera picking them up often in mid-thought. The film appeared a few months after Altman received an honorary Oscar, and the director is still at the top of his game, creating this smile-inducing, song-filled time, ending with an ethereal last musical number. --Doug Thomas

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By hillbank68 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Jun. 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I found this film absolutely charming. It's whimsical and fairly slow-moving, but so many delightful things happen along the way that it hardly matters. The music hall is due to be closed down - it has outlived its time - and we witness its last evening. Various acts perform : Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin are the singing Johnson sisters (both excellent, and Streep a revelation as a Country-and-Western performer ; she is a real show-stopper), Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly a cowboy double-act with a penchant for blue jokes, very corny and very funny. Kevin Kline is Guy Noir, the security man, a third rate private eye, and Virginia Madsen appears mysteriously in a white coat - she represents the end, closure, death itself. Holding it all together is Garrison Keillor, himself a first-rate performer and very good in this film, and the film does have structure as the show awaits the arrival of Tommy Lee Jones, who will close it down ; the consequences are to some extent unexpected. It was Robert Altman's last film and bears many of his hallmarks, the camera meandering around the characters and observing their performances, their conversations, their private behaviour. It ends in a diner, an effectively bitter-sweet ending which leaves at least one question unanswered. I enjoyed every minute of the film, and it's nice to have it on DVD with quite a few extras - commentary by Kline and Altman, how the film was made, interviews and deleted scenes.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Richard Hammond TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Nov. 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
End-of-an-era stuff: this is the quirky Robert Altman fictionalisation of Garrison Keillor's regular old-timey family radio show. To provide a story-backbone the film imagines the radio-show coming to a sudden end as the station is sold and as a company `axeman' comes to clear-out the old stuff. The premise is eccentric and the delivery heartfelt, personal and hugely affecting. Death and afterlife are explored in a gentle manner that gains additional significance given that we already know Altman died shortly after completion. This is a special movie.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By You caught me procrastinating again on 12 Nov. 2007
Format: DVD
A wonderfully romantic portrayal of a dinosaur of a show - a pre-television radio variety - stumbling to a dignified extinction. Admire GK's unflappable professionalism (and the real Keillor's triumph), laugh at the advertising and feel strangely warm inside. A worthy close to Altman's career; it's as if the angel comes for him.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen W. Mills on 9 Mar. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There is a wide range of excellent humour in this gem of a film. I get the feeling that the entire cast had a ball making it, and for me that total enjoyment is transmitted to the viewer.
A very good evening's entertainment and a joyous finish to Robert Altman's long career.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. Brown on 15 May 2009
Format: DVD
Dont let this one slip by your radar-if you are a fan of Garrison Keillor's written work or Country music or indeeed just good honest live fun music then this dvd is a must.The extras dvd is worth the price alone for the deleted scenes, nearly all musical and an absolute treat. Meryl Streep's singing is a revelation for an actress not normally known for this talent. Even though the theme of the film is current-ie closing down a non profitable organisation,the film is a celebration of times gone by when life was not lived at such a pace-this is one film you can watch a hundred times and never get tired of. Good on Channel 4 for slipping this into the schedule, albeit well late at night, when I video'd it and watched it back my wife (Edna Book!)enjoyed the music even though she wasn't paying any attention to the story line.Watch it and smile-it will do you good!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By hillbank68 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Mar. 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This was Robert Altman's last film, and has a certain poignancy as a result, particularly as a major theme is ageing and not always welcome change. But it is at least as much Garrison Keillor's film - it is based on his work in radio stations, he wrote the screenplay and he plays himself in it. 'The Prairie Home Companion', a kind of off-beat country-and-western Minnesota radio programme recorded live in a tatty old music hall, is on its last legs - this is the last show. We see a good deal of the show, performed with great verve by such as Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Keillor and Meryl Streep, who is a revelation in her role as one of the singing Johnson sisters - she is absolutely marvellous. We also go backstage (or, to be more accurate, below stage) to the dressing rooms. A Chandleresque private eye (but a very clumsy one, well played by Kevin Kline) tells the story, and the device of a kind of guardian angel (called Asphodel - Virginia Madsen) frames the whole thing. Some of the songs are sentimental, but performed with such verve and conviction that they really work anyway, but the film overall is not ; it ends bitter-sweetly, and the inevitability of change and closure, welcome or not, is very real. I saw it in a cinema, and it is often very funny - I haven't heard so many people laugh out loud for a long time. Keillor's droll radio adverts and Harrelson and Reilly (Dusty and Lefty, the trail-hardened cowboys) singing a sequence of blue jokes, some awful, some clever, are highlights. It's a film you can feel very warmly towards, and the most sheerly enjoyable film I have seen for a while.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. P. J. Kochen on 30 Sept. 2010
Format: DVD
Watching this movie if you are not acquainted with the radio show on N.P.R. (the only broadcaster who could afford to inflict this show on the listening public)is like eating cornflakes without the benefit of milk to smoothen the process.
It is a comedy but without the thigh-slapping, gut-splitting laughs you hope for in a good spoof. That is not to say it isn't funny. It is in fact hilarious but the comedy is driven by a melancholy that borders on depression. The show is doing its last performance, the theater is going to be broken down, Lindsey Lohan's character is gripped by a morbid fascination with all things to do with death, one of the cast dies in the harnass and there is a Virginia Madsen floating through the theater as an angel of death. Doom and gloom everywhere so side-splitting humour would be incongruous with the dark mood that prevades most of the storyline. Garrison Keillor's screen play is well written and he follows Shakespeare in that all is well that ends well. The storyline uses his N.P.R. radio show as a backdrop and the different storylines flow together smoothly to their not so grim conclusion.
This movie is a "must see" for anyone who enjoys intelligent humour and is tired of prat falls, toilet jokes, four letter words and camera work calculated to give you an epileptic fit.
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