Fans gather at the Fitzgerald Theater in Minneapolis for a live folksy, antiquated radio program not knowing it will be the final broadcast, the venue having been sold and the show cancelled. As the performance plays out onstage, drama and intrigue unfold backstage: a private detective (Kevin Kline) pokes around, an axeman (Tommy Lee Jones) from the foreclosing corporate outfit assesses the situation, the pregnant stage manager (Maya Rudolph) hounds the procrastinating host (Garrison Keillor), and cast members kid, reminisce and say their farewells as a mysterious, angelic figure (Virginia Madsen) looms over all. Keillor’s screen adaptation of his own long running radio program and Robert Altman’s last film as a director is a whole lot of fun on all accounts, successfully capturing the whimsical, folksy, nostalgic feelings associated with the cherished show while crafting a warm, offbeat, and very funny movie. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin contribute excellent performances as a pair of singing sisters with Lindsay Lohan surprisingly game as Streep’s daughter, and John C. Reilly and Woody Harrelson are a hoot as a duo of crooning cowboys.
*** 1/2 out of ****