Keillor Goes Meta…

…doing a movie about the last episode of his radio show, one in which Guy Noir is not just a character on the show, but a real member of the cast.

Great line: “Every night is your last night.”

There’s a good bio waiting to be written on Keillor – between the New Yorker years, the novels and short stories (there are some truly priceless bits in The Book of Guys), the radio show, the column for Slate, the Writer’s Almanac, the anthologies of poetry…the man is a champion of middlebrow culture, and I use that term admiringly.


  1. Matthew,

    Might be fun.

    But it strikes me as another case of Hollywood running dry and turning to it’s oft-used “Out of Ideas” File.

    Now – had the movie not been made and, a la Terry Gilliam’s Quixote disaster, Keillor made a radio play about the movie that never got made – THAT would be a stroke of TRUE genius.

    Of course, to really give it legs, he’d have to swallow his liberal pride and see if he could “cross the aisle” and get all the conservative talk show hosts to fill in as members of the cast.

    Rush Limbaugh as Guy Noir
    Mark Levine and Michael Medved as the Singing Cowboys
    Laura Ingraham and Dr. Laura Schlesinger as the Singing Gals Troupe
    Sean Hannity as the Poet
    Mike Savage doing Sound Effects
    Michael Reagan, Rusty Humphries, Jerry Doyle and Bill O’Reilly as the Four Horseman Quartet


    But that would be too clever, even for Keillor…


  2. Mark Lickona says

    I’m sad to say that I’ve come to have a love-hate affair with the show–I think GK and his self-conscious semi-self-effacing pseudo-sagacity are due to take their final bow (just as he’s about to step onto the biggest stage of all)–and I’m afraid the trailer is a bad sign of things to come.

    The line Matt has singled out is the one line I found at all remarkable, though not funny, which is what Keillor usually does best (as opposed to anything that requires calling on depths). This looks like the work of a man too much aware of his well-known cleverness, a self-consciousness that often results in an exceeding of one’s powers (again, he needs to stay goofy, while this thing seems poised to be weepy).

    GK even seems a little pleased with himself here; he’s obviously playing himself when the character is not himself, and it comes off badly, even a little self-adulatory (what we’re seeing here looks not like a character, not even like an actor, but like the cinematic apotheosis of Garrison Keillor). Meanwhile, the character who desperately needs to be played by Keillor, Guy Noir, is played by Kevin Kline, who gives us not one hint here of that delightful tounge-in-cheek with which Keillor has always served up this bit of classic camp. Woody and John C. as the Singing Cowboys seem utterly flat too.

    They really should have brought someone else in to write this thing with Keillor (not to mention resisted what was likely Keillor’s desire to play the starring role in “his” movie).

    In unrelated (?) news…why do Tim Russell and Sue Scott need to advertise their voice talent??? (Is this film in fact the show’s final bow???)

  3. Mark Lickona says

    I should add, to give credit where credit is (was) due, that the very thing which has made Keillor as good as he’s been–namely, his small-town, religious upbringing–is the very thing that he rejects (and also feels guilty about rejecting), which over the years has indeed made for a potent creative cocktail of love and (self-)hate that has alternately inspired him and short-circuited him, made him either marvelously sublime or weakly sentimental in his reflective homages to life on Lake Wobegon.

  4. Mark Lickona says

    Hm…that sounded like damning Keillor with faint praise, where I meant to proclaim him as tortured as an artist as the best of them…

  5. Mark Lickona says

    The very fact that I’m spilling this much ink (so to speak) on Keillor proves Matt’s point about the need for the definitive bio on the man.

  6. My late father instilled a love of the show in me at a young age. I think a lot of people dig the guy.
    A bio is a great idea-
    I think you should write it, Matthew.

  7. Mark,

    Your repeated stop-n-go trailings on GK (I remember when these initials meant the larger part of the Chesterbelloc) remind me of the great scene in Swingers where Favreau’s character talks himself out of a date in a series of increasingly bizarre and self-defeating phone messages to the woman he met that night at the bar.

    …and they’re just as funny.

    So, of course, I mean this, as Groucho says, in a good way…


  8. Mark Lickona says

    Thanks JOB. I saw that scene, and it was indeed hilarious. In my case, of course, I’m talking myself back into love…

    …even though I’m still mad at him…

  9. ernesto pinamonti says

    Wow Mark,

    Let’s give the thing a chance, shall we? For all GK’s issue, I think he has demonstrated that he’s got quadruple the creative talent that the above average Hollywood screen writer has. He’s earned the right to be given a fair chance on this one.

  10. Mark Lickona says

    What I was reacting to were all the flat and sour notes the trailer sounded. AS I said, they simply seemed like ill portents. Of course we’ll have to wait and see. Am I not allowed to hold out not much hope based on what the producers have allowed us to see here? For as much BS as marketing usually is, you can usually tell something about a movie from its trailer…

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