Monday, June 12, 2006

uff da

When the weekend box office figures were released, I was glad to know that I had contributed $5.50 ($16.50 when you count the tickets for my wife and daughter) toward the $4.7 million earned by "A Prairie Home Companion." I wanted to support a film about radio on its opening weekend. The movie only played in 760 locations and had a per screen average of $6,146, which they say is pretty good.

Before we went, we automatically checked the listings for Knoxville's art house theater and were surprised that it wasn't playing there. Locally based theater giant Regal Cinemas didn't book "A Prairie Home Companion" on any of the screens in its hometown. Instead rival Carmike booked the film into two of its multiplexes.

The movie is more about the death of a radio show than about the radio show itself. Death is a theme throughout the film. Lindsey Lohan's character writes poetry about it. Virginia Madsen's character is well acquainted with it. Several other characters have to react to it. "A Prairie Home Companion" especially resonated with me because I've been through the deaths of radio stations in Washington, Los Angeles and Knoxville. The movie brought back a hint of the sadness I felt but it was quickly tempered by the humor in the film, especially the song "Bad Jokes" which was sung by Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly.

It made perfect sense that Ebert & Roeper would be split on "A Prairie Home Companion." Ebert enthusiastically gave it "thumbs way up" while Roeper put his thumb down. Watching the movie is like watching an actual radio show. There's not a lot of action. Roeper thought there were too many songs (which is the same thing a lot of radio hosts think about their own shows). He didn't care for the folksy music or the corny jokes while Ebert loved them. After watching the movie, I would agree with Ebert that it was a good time.

People who have never listened to Garrison Keillor's radio show will not be converted into fans by the movie. The film is best appreciated by those who are already familiar with the weekly broadcast. I don't get to hear it that often, but I usually enjoy it when I do. The show reminds me of my father, who was a regular listener in the '80s. I've always wondered if they keep an archive of older shows that I could access. I would like to hear a story from Lake Wobegon that had an effect on my father. It must have aired a month or two before he died. I vaguely remember him telling us about it. I think the story had to do with a guy who thought he was going to freeze to death and kept repeating the phrase "God is good."

To paraphrase Keillor, the actors are strong, the actresses are good looking and the movie is above average. He must be about as happy as he can get.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Anonymous Pam Mc said...

Not sure I've even heard of that movie yet Frank, but thanks for the review.

Anonymous Chairman B. said...

Here's a link to the A lot of shows going back to the mid-nineties but none before that except for two from Nov of '85.

Anonymous Chairman B. said...

Somehow, half a sentence went missing in that previous post. It should read, "Here's a link to the Prairie Home Companion Archive." But, you probably figured that out already.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home