For 31 years (and counting) Garrison Keillor has brought his homespun, smart-but-not-pretentious variety show, A Prairie Home Companion, to the airwaves every week. The show's endurance in a notoriously fickle entertainment culture is remarkable in and of itself, but it's mind-boggling when you consider that the airwaves are of the radio type, not TV. Now, for the first time, Keillor brings his sensibilities to a screen rather than a dial, in a fictionalized broadcast of the show, also entitled A Prairie Home Companion.
In the movie, A Prairie Home Companion is a regional rather than national production. The radio station on which it airs has been purchased by an indifferent Texas conglomerate which is about to take a wrecking ball to the show's beloved Fitzgerald Theater—and an axe to the show itself. With the exception of opening and closing scenes at a nearby diner, the entire story takes place in the Fitzgerald on the night of the show's last airing.
Three PHC characters used in regular sketches on the actual radio show are made "real" in the film. Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda, Dave, De-Lovely) brings the pulp detective Guy Noir to life as a doorman-cum-investigator who's equal parts Sam Spade, Buster Keaton and Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau. (In a recent interview, Kline said he began to understand Guy Noir once Keillor explained that his character was "completely nuts.") Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly play the bawdy, bickering, brotherly cowboys Dusty and Lefty. And Garrison Keillor himself brings an integral element from the radio show to the movie, playing an announcer named GK who anchors the proceedings in a distinctly "Keillorian," understated fashion. Notably, Keillor holds his own with the ...1