Monday, 7 June 2010

A Prairie Home Companion

One of the themes of this blog is examining not just sitcom, but appreciation of comedy in general. And what interests me is how far opinions of critics differs from the opinions of regular viewers. Ultimately, the opinions of critics doesn't matter all that much since movies live or die by the box office, but it's frustrating to watch a movie lauded by critics that you found to be almost unwatchable.

As you can tell from the title and the intro, I just struggled to watch the Garrison Keillor movie A Prairie Home Companion, which was aired by BBC2 this evening (I was staying up to feed my four-week-old baby). I'm a fan of the Garrison K monologue (which I get as a podcast) despite being overly sentimental and ponderous, but it contains some decent jokes, and Lake Wobegan is a world that I believe and find funny.

But the movie is about the radio show as a whole, which takes place in a theatre, and is being closed down by the new network. It's not a great start for a motion picture. It stars Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Woody Harrelson among others - who are clearly big fans of Garrison. But nothing happens. Nothing. There's shambling and talking, singing - oh, so much singing - and nostalgia. People shuffle around the theatre and then go to a diner. And it ends.

I accept that, being British, I'm already onto a loser here, since it's about a radio show that's not part of the culture, and it's a yearning for a past that didn't exist in Britain - and barely existed in USA. It was directed by Robert Altman (he was good wasn't he?). And, of course, according to Rotten Tomatoes, most film critics thought the movie was unwatchable slow, dull, self-indulgent movie was lovely/wonderful/gentle/sweet/impressive/well-handled...

Fortunately, Open Water was ITV at the same time, so I was able to channel hop and experience the mild peril of shark death, which is how I made it to the end. Disappointing.

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