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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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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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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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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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 March 2007
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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on 9 March 2009
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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on 15 May 2009
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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on 8 December 2007
Fantastic! Great songs and acting. This film is a must see for adults and kids. It's cheeky with a surreal side towards the end. Do also by the CD of the soundtrack, that way you hear more of the songs. Buy it now it's really worth every penny!
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on 20 February 2016
Superb Film, the late Robert Altman's farewell piece of work.

Its extremely well performed.. of course it has its flaws, but its very well shot, the musical numbers (the entire point of the film and the way the story is told for the most part) are wonderfully performed. All the songs were performed live on set also, so you really get immersed... the great thing about this film is that you can work out the story simply by listening to the soundtrack carefully.

Anyway, the lighting is okay and costume and make up are spot on. Clap clap clap!
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on 6 July 2011
This film is a joy from beginning to end and is the least cynical of Robert Altman's work. There are some really fine performances and Kevin Kline is particularly good. But Garrison Keillor is a revelation. The DVD is well made with some really nice extras. I recently purchased Altman's M*A*S*H an other fine but entirely different movie. A Prairie Home Companion is a must but for those who enjoy ensemble acting. Highly recommneded.
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on 16 May 2015
In modern parlance this movie could be classified as "Out of the Box" and "Coming from Left Field" The Radio Show, an American idea takes a bit of understanding but stick with it because it is full of pathos and laughter. Excellent viewibg and entertainment
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