“A Prairie Home Companion” brings us Garrison Keillor’s “unique” brand of humor, translated from the radio to film. The story is about a radio program which is about to go off the air, and an angel of death (Virginia Madsen) is seen lurking throughout the film, seemingly symbolizing the “death” of the radio show, as well as the inevitable arrival of the Grim Reaper in everyone’s life. The film is entertaining, with some great spiritual songs from Meryl Streep (who can really sing), and Lily Tomlin (who does a fine job too), as well as country tunes from Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly. Lindsay Lohan, playing a young singer named Lola who contemplates and writes about suicide, shows off her singing talents in an energetic rendition of “Frankie and Johnny,” and Lohan really belts it out. She is in fine form in the film although her presence is somewhat limited. She plays Streep’s daughter in the movie.
It should be noted that the film feels a little dis-jointed in a few spots. In one scene Streep and Tomlin do a great rendition of a song about the Lord as our shepherd, and in the next scene Harrelson and Reilly do a song called “Bad Jokes,” and they are very racy and risque. Perhaps director Robert Altman, a legend in Hollywood, intended to reach a large audience with this method. There is a character named Chuck (L.Q. Jones) who is having a sexual relationship with the lunch lady, and in one scene his pants are down but his shirt-tail covers the rear. Still, there is nothing graphic in the scene and although there is some language in the film, there are also some sweet moments and sweet songs which help balance the other stuff. This film is definitely not for anyone under age twelve but we do recommend it, along with the warning about the racy jokes, for ages twelve and above. The “Bad Jokes” song is the raciest scene. We encourage the viewer to enjoy the good music and this great ensemble cast. Also, be sure and listen for the “penguin joke.”