Sunday, July 16, 2006

Actors Being Fatuous on the Prairie

I am a Robert Altman fan. But I didn't get why he wanted to make A Prairie Home Companion. The whole thing seemed like an inside joke to me. One that I didn't get.

Sometimes Altman allows his scenes to run long because he seems to so enjoy letting talented actors actually do some acting (as opposed to mopdeling clothes and pouting). And there was a little of that in APHC - most notably in Meryl Streep's moments in front of the camera. But there wasn't much for any of this stellar array of actors to do. It was like dress up time for most of them, but with no pay off. Tremendous waste of Streep, Lily Tomlin, Tommy Lee Jones, Virginia Madsen, Kevin Kline, and even Lindsey Lohan. Just to name a few.

For many years now I have said loudly and often that I would watch Meryl Streep read the phonebook.....Well, sure, a phoneboook. But not this beatless, self-conscious script.

I found the humor lame. But in-your (ie. the audience's) -face-ishly so. I guess that is Keilor's schtick?

It was an odd thing to watch. Borrowing from Tommy Lee Jone's dialogue, watching APHC was much more like being trapped in an experiment in anthropology than in an opportunity for entertainment. My sense is that was the point. The purpose of the movie was to immortalize Garrison Keilor's schtick while we still have him...because he is an American treasure or something.

Which treasure I found mostly lame. But he has a nice voice.

This review is brought to you by the good folks at Ben's Soda Crackers. Don't forget to pass on this movie on your way to pick up the crispy crackers in the bright blue box.