"Singing the Gospel with a Wry Rustic Smile"
What You Need To Know:
PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION is a homespun, winsome concoction that's alternately wry, sweet and surreal. A few Gospel and country songs provide some of the sweeter moments. The movie contains plenty of mostly light foul language, talk about "fooling around" and a few off-color jokes. God and the joy of the Gospel often hover in the foreground, however. For the most part, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION is a wry, funny and heartwarming celebration of the Gospel and the strength, humor and goodwill of America's Midwest and its people.
(PaPa, FR, C, B, PP, LLL, S, V, N, A, D, M) Strong Christian worldview with some biblical references, including Gospel songs, positive references to Jesus, a reference to New Jerusalem, and character quotes Psalm 23, plus a generally strong and positive view of strength, humor, optimism, and goodwill of America’s Midwest and its people, presented in a comical manner, and some immoral, pagan content; 17 mostly light obscenities (no “f” words), one slightly muffled strong profanity, 13 light profanities such as “My God” and “I swear to God”, man embarrassingly passes gas in a couple scenes, and a joke about diarrhea; no depicted violence, but young woman writes poems about suicide, man dies of natural causes and mention of a fatal car wreck; no depicted sex, but a couple double entendres about sex, older man flirts with older lady, unmarried couple plans a tryst backstage but the tryst never occurs and other people learn about the attempted rendezvous, woman complains to ex-boyfriend about leaving her for another woman, and some off-color jokes about a woman’s “boobs”, Viagra and “What did the elephant say to the naked man?” in a song called “Bad Jokes”; brief upper male nudity in one scene; alcohol use; smoking; and, character asks an Angel of Death to get rid of somebody, man seems to have a callous attitude toward the possibility of people dying and characters bicker occasionally.
A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION is a delightful piece of wry, folksy, Midwestern American humor. It also has a winsome, surreal quality. There are some off-color moments and plenty of mostly light foul language, but an angel from God plays an important role in the movie’s loose plot and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is sung sincerely in at least two musical numbers.
Directed by Robert Altman (THE PLAYER and NASHVILLE), the movie is based on Garrison Keillor’s live radio show. Keillor (“Key-ler”) has been writing and hosting the show for more than 30 years.
Instead of a nationally syndicated show, Altman and Keillor envision A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION as a weekend program on a mom-and-pop radio station in St. Paul, Minnesota. The security manager, Guy Noir (played by Kevin Kline), provides some arch narration for the movie. He finishes his dinner, which includes “beans for a chaser,” and fans file into the Fitzgerald Theater to see the program. The fans don’t know, however, that the station has been sold to a Texas conglomerate and tonight’s show will be the last.
Backstage, Keillor plays himself. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin play the Johnson sisters, Yolanda and Rhonda (new characters created for the movie), the surviving middle-aged members of a singing country quartet. The quartet is patterned on the Carter family. Lindsay Lohan is Yolanda’s dour daughter, who writes poems about suicide. Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly play Dusty and Lefty, two singing cowboys who have a tendency to finish the show with a little blue humor.
These characters and more put on the show and wait for the visit of a representative from the Texas company that will tear down the theater to put in a parking lot. Visiting them is an angel of death, who appears as a beautiful blonde in a white trenchcoat. Her visit unleashes an opportunity for more funny lines from Guy Noir, who eventually discovers her identity and purpose for attending the last show. During the show, Garrison sings the praises of Powdermilk Biscuits, Mel’s Buffet, rhubarb pie, and other products in a series of funny, down-home commercials.
A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION is a homespun, winsome concoction that’s alternately wry and sweet. Some of the sweeter moments are provided by cast members singing a few Gospel and country songs. In one scene backstage, for example, Yolanda sings verses of “Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me” to comfort her sister, Rhonda. At the end of the movie, the whole cast joyously sings, “In the Sweet Bye and Bye.” The script is a bit plotless, however, and the Minnesota accents of Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin seem to come and go.
A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION contains a lot of light foul language and some strong foul language, talk about “fooling around” and suicide, and a few off-color jokes from the singing cowboys in a song about their love for bad jokes. Like, however, the angel of death who often appears during the movie, God and the joy of the Gospel often hover in the foreground (see our CONTENT section above for more details). And, the joy and comfort that the Gospel brings to people is clearly seen overtly in two or three scenes.
Thus, for the most part, the movie version of A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION is a wry, funny and heartwarming celebration of the Gospel and the strength, humor, optimism, and goodwill of America’s Midwest and its people.