Now Cough

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Worst Movie of the Year

A Prairie Home Companion, the new Robert Altman movie about the American Public Media hit radio program is an utterly unfunny, ponderous, flat, smug, self-reverential disaster.

I'm not in the majority. I think PHC on the radio is long, long past its prime. It is a sad, polished up attempt to recreate an era of radio that never existed. It is nostalgia without accuracy. Real 'old' radio is obituaries, announcements about quilting bees and lunches in private homes, church messages, totally white, preachy and insular. A mix of the best and very worst aspects of small town life. Communities that don't welcome you unless you have lived there for 30 years.

The variety show of PHC style was always a radio network creation. Not small town but big, new broadcast business. Ted Mack and Groucho Marx. Lurching from cornball to acceptably suggestive. Better in the original.

But this film is beyond awful.

Hearing Garrison Keillor is one thing. Seeeing him is something else. And his on screen aloofness, almost underbreath coldness, reveals (for me, at least) a creepiness that infects the radio show each week. I don't think Keillor would want to spend one private moment with anyone in his audience, certainly not his film audience.

Alert to all PHC fans: there is NO story. None. There are musical 'performances' (no more than unfunny shtick), cloying, rambling duets with Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin, the forgettable Lindsay Lohan, and a wasted Kevin Klein. Tommy Lee Jones walks on and then walks off. With a paycheck.

And for Robert Altman, PHC ranks right up there with his other pointless films:

  • Dr. T and the Women

  • Pret a Porter

  • Beyond Therapy

  • Popeye

  • Yup, A Prairie Home Companion is worse than Popeye.

    Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon/Noir Productions, Inc.


    • It is always good to find other people who think that Robert Altman has no clothes a lot of the time. There are of course exceptions, like Nashville, Three Women, Gosford Park and one scene in The Player. I confess I've never seen M*A*S*H or Short Cuts.

      And thank you for helping me understand why PHC on the radio always seems to create a Sunday afternoon malaise that makes we turn the station quickly before I end up in a Scandinavian suicidal tailspin.

      By Blogger JM, at 2:27 AM  

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