“We really should be taping this.”

I haven’t seen a lot of Robert Altman films (here’s where I admit I haven’t seen MASH), but I have really enjoyed the ones I have seen. I remember watching Gosford Park – Mike was asleep on the couch and I, as recommended, had put on the subtitles in order to keep up with what was being said. Gosford Park was like a revelation. I loved watching the story unfold, all the twists and turns, all the different characters and how their lives intersect. Robert Altman is one reason that I decided I wanted to see A Prairie Home Companion.

I know that, because of my love of Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls (aka “that movie where she was so pretty with her red hair and cute figure before she started smoking crack”), you’re expecting me to say that she’s the other reason. Actually, the other main reason I wanted to see A Prairie Home Companion is Meryl Streep. I have seen some of her movies and enjoyed her work, and then Kelly and I saw The Hours in the theater, and I was mesmerized. After we finished the movie today, I told Mike that same thing – “Every time Meryl Streep was on the screen, I was watching her. I find her mesmerizing.”

You see, I haven’t listened to “A Prairie Home Companion” on NPR in years. Sorry, but it’s true. I think part of that is that I don’t like to get into something in the middle, where I’m missing all the history and the in-jokes, and that keeps me from starting it now. And I never could get into any of Garrison Keillor’s books. I don’t remember my mom and dad listening to the show a whole lot, but I do remember them talking about it, and I think they listen to it if it’s on and they’re in the car. Mike, for his part, has never heard the show. So we aren’t exactly PHC experts, by any means. I give that disclaimer to say, look, we’re not looking for the same things a fan of the show would be looking for. We didn’t have the weight of expectation that a fan of the show might have. But, not to put too fine a point on it, I thought the movie was fabulous. Mike loved it, too, but I don’t think he uses the word “fabulous.” Ever.

Basically, it took me out of the movie theater I was in, one seat away from a weird guy with an annoying laugh, and made me feel like I was there, with those people. Virginia Madsen’s character says at one point that when she used to listen to the show, she felt like they were all her friends, and that’s what the movie felt like to me as well. The history of the people and their love for what they were doing on that stage came through in a wonderful way. I laughed and cried through it, and I left feeling . . . like you do after catching up with an old friend. You talk about things both happy and sad, but you leave with a full heart. Mike and I hadn’t been to the movies together since January, and this was well worth breaking our fast.

I was going to leave my review at that, but it would be a little dishonest, I think. I don’t know exactly how to put this part into words, but I especially enjoyed the way the movie handled mortality, both in the desire to honor the people and things (like radio shows) that are no longer with us, and the balance of continuing to live your life without the people and things you love. It was a lesson in Ecclesiastes: acknowledging that there are times and places for all the different feelings that we experience here on earth, and we all express those in different ways. It was a good lesson to learn in a dark theater on a Saturday afternoon.

I’m probably not going to become a fan of the show now (we talked about that on the way home, and Mike says it’s not podcasted, so that’s pretty much it for us. But let me just say that, every week, we thoroughly enjoy the podcast of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” Listening to it together is one of the highlights of my week), but count me in as a fan of the wonderful movie. Mike came upstairs as I was writing this and said, “Are you writing a review? You should say that they just don’t make movies like that anymore.”

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