Groundhog Day

Director: Harold Ramis
Starring: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliot, Brian Doyle-Murray and an uncredited woodchuck
Released: 1993

Comedy and Bill Murray are as synonymous as cheese and every other food.
He compliments the genre so well, and makes it look so easy. More than once, he has walked in front of the camera, giving the impression that he is simply going about his day, casually ghostbusting while being himself.
I miss Bill Murray being in films.

The Plot:
Phil (Murray) is a weather reporter who is given the job of reporting on the annual Groundhog day in Punxsutawney, Pittsburgh. After a freak snowstorm hits, he is forced to remain in the town…and, as it turns out, the same day perpetually. Everyday he wakes up, it is still Groundhog Day. Whereas this has obvious ramifications, it also leads to a romance with his upbeat producer, Rita (MacDowell).

It always feels a little strange when so many people have seen a film and you watch it for the first time over ten years after it was released. When I first watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (a mere 3 years ago), I finally understood a great deal of film references I had seen in the likes of The Simpsons and Family Guy, and it was a great weight off my shoulders. The film was good too.

Groundhog Day falls into the same category. A huge number of people had seen this film before, though none of them seemed overly surprised or bothered when I mentioned I hadn’t. This was a drastic change to the “WHHHAAAAT?!” I received when I mentioned I hadn’t seen The Godfather in my first year of college. The reason for this is that Groundhog Day, while an enjoyable enough film, is hardly groundbreaking in any way.

A major issue with this film is that the plot is interesting in theory, but executed in such a way that feels very unsatisfying. There is no explanation for why Phil keeps going back in time or, far more annoyingly, why he stops in the film conclusion. Naturally, it could be, as the film might have you think, because he got the girl. However, this feels like a very flimsy solution for the film and doesn’t hold up well. Oh, spoiler alert, you probably weren’t expecting that from an early 90s romantic comedy.

It’s saving grace is, naturally, Murray himself. His antics onscreen make for quality viewing, most often when he is acting in isolation. It is often a deadpan and somewhat sarcastic attitude he presents on-screen, but this can just as easily run in the opposite direction until he borders on the hysterical.

It’s such a shame that the romance he shares with Rita feels so very artificial. Not just because he cheats his way into it, but there is little or no chemistry between the two. To do them both credit, Murray has his own sarcastic and witty charm, and MacDowell manages to be a naive and sweet enough character to come across as endearing. It just seems so difficult to believe that the two would actually fall head over heels in love when they seem to be little more than likeable to each other.

Other minor characters, though very much shunted to the sideline for the entirety of the film, are played adequately. Elliot’s character however, Larry, is unusual. It is difficult to tell whether he is attempting to portray him as a loveable loser, or as simply a smartass. In any other film, this might seem intriguing, but in a romantic comedy such as this, it comes across as simply irritating.

Overall:
There are quite a number of problems with Groundhog Day, in terms of both the acting and plot. However, with a wizard of comedy such as Murray at the helm, it is also very difficult film to dislike. Whereas not overly convincing, it is a sweet enough story to keep you entertained.

Rating: 6/10

I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank piña coladas. At sunset, we made love like sea otters. *That* was a pretty good day. Why couldn’t I get *that* day over, and over, and over…” – Phil

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • I checked up on this, and apparently early scripts had the reason for why Phil kept going back in time: Apparently a jilted ex-lover cast a spell on him…probably just as well they left it unexplained.
  • Bill Murray was bitten by the groundhog twice during the film. Lol I say.
  • Apparently, Harold Ramis stated that Phil relived Groundhog Day for about 10 years. Which doesn’t really become apparent in the hour and a half of screen time.
  • This would be such an easy film to make a horror movie of…

This film is kind of like:

  • Ghostbusters without ghosts.

or

  • The Facebook status updates of a friend who is hopelessly obsessed with someone that is clearly not interested
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Published in: on January 4, 2012 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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