RADIO LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE.
In his last movie, Robert Altman took elements from real life and turned them into a typical Altman experience, with a large cast, parallel stories and overlapping dialogue. Audiences are introduced to the people involved with “A Prairie Home Companion”, a radio variety show that is airing its final programme before a live audience. The cancellation and the characters are not taken from real life, but the show, the songs and the host (Garrison Keillor) are. Perhaps the fact that we know we’re watching Altman say goodbye adds extra emotional impact to this sweet, funny, nostalgic film. Terrific effort by Keillor – the professional actors are game as well.
2006-U.S. 105 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Robert Altman, Wren Arthur, Joshua Astrachan, Tony Judge, David Levy. Directed by Robert Altman. Screenplay: Garrison Keillor. Cast: Meryl Streep (Yolanda Johnson), Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline (Guy Noir), Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Woody Harrelson… John C. Reilly, Virginia Madsen, Tommy Lee Jones, Maya Rudolph.
Trivia: George Clooney, Michelle Pfeiffer, Lyle Lovett and Tom Waits were allegedly considered for parts. For insurance purposes, Paul Thomas Anderson was hired as a “backup” director in case Altman would be unable to finish shooting the film.
Last word: “Mr. Altman really wanted this to be a PG-13 movie. And it was during ‘bad jokes’ that this became a PG-13 movie. He was very grateful for that. My mother went to see the St. Paul premiere and she sat there 91 years old, watching. I couldn’t remember whether Altman left in the PMS joke or not, but then you’re never sure when your mother at the age of 91 remembers what PMS is…” (Keillor, About.com)