By Kirk Honeycutt
Screened at the Berlin International Film Festival
BERLIN — Not since Woody Allen’s “Radio Days” has anyone created such a cinematic Valentine to the wonderfully imaginative medium of radio as “A Prairie Home Companion.” Garrison Keillor, impresario, creator and host of one of radio’s longest running programs — 31 years and counting — and director Robert Altman are a match made in heaven. To these two Midwesterners, the region’s dry, whimsical humor, unfailing politeness and straight-shooting sensibility are as natural as their own skins. There is no artifice or slickness here, just a native, keen intelligence that slyly hides behind homespun wit and verbal slapstick. (…)
The central musical acts belong to Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson (Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin), the remaining members of what once was a four-sister country music act, and Dusty and Lefty (Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly), singing cowboys and rivals in one-upsmanship.
Yolanda’s daughter Lola (Lindsay Lohan) distracts herself from her mom’s oft-told tales of the theatrical life by penning poems about suicide. Guy Noir, a recurring character on Keillor’s show, is brought aboard here as the program’s “security director.” As the throwback detective, Kevin Kline mixes Chandler-esque dialogue with more than a touch of Peter Seller’s Inspector Clouseau.
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