Garrison Keillor (writer), Garrison Keillor and Ken LaZenik (story), Robert Altman (director) A
Prairie Home Companion / 2006
Directed by one of America’s most noted filmmakers, Robert Altman, and with a screenplay by the beloved humorist and radio-host Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion was perhaps one of the most anticipated films of the lackluster 2006 film season. Despite some critical appreciation, however, the film mostly garnered mediocre reviews, in particular in the widely-read New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, and New York Times. A. O. Scott of the latter paper perhaps summarized the comments best in his characterization of Keillor and Altman’s collaboration: “Together they have confected a breezy backstage comedy that is also a sly elegy: a poignant contemplation of last things that goes down as smoothing and sweetly as a lemon drop.” In summary, the New York paper noted that Keillor’s “weekly cavalcade of wry Midwestern humor and musical Americana has never set out to make anyone’s hair stand on end. Notwithstanding the occasional crackle of satire or sparkle of instrumental virtuosity, it mostly offers reliable doses of amusement embedded in easygoing nostalgia. It looks back on—or, rather, reinvents—a time when popular culture was spooned out in grange halls and Main street movie palaces….” The movie, Scott concluded, was “more likely to inspire fondness than awe.”
Two penguins are standing on an ice floe. The first penguin
says, “you look like you’re wearing a tuxedo. “The second
penguin says, “what makes you think I’m not?”
She asks Keillor, “Why is that funny?” “I guess because people laugh at it.” “I’m not laughing,” she replies.
Long-haired preachers come out every night
Try to tell us what’s wrong and what’s right;
But when asked about something to eat,
They just answer in accents so sweet:
“You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land in the sky!
Chop some wood, ‘twill do you good,
There’ll be pie in the sky when you die.
Los Angeles, June 27, 2006
Reprinted from The Green Integer Review, No. 5 (November 2006).