Directed By: Harold Ramis Release: February 12, 1993
This review is biased. It’s also going to be overly positive, gushing at every turn and filled with love. I love Goundhog Day. I can’t say that it is a childhood favorite, I didn’t actually watch it till later in my teen’s. But once I did I was hooked. The incredible pairing of Billy Murray and Harold Ramis has produced some of my all time favorite films, and Groundhog Day is one of them. There are not many imitators, mostly due to how simple yet complicated this concept is. So what happened to make this one of the most thought provoking, heart warming and fun movies I’ve ever seen?
Phil (Bill Murray) is just a weather man who wants to do more, what that more is he doesn’t know. During the channels annual trip to Punxutawney to report on the Groundhod Day event, Phil suddenly finds himself reliving the day over and over and over and…he has no idea why. With an infinite amount of time, what is there to do? That’s what the film dives into, what can Phil do when every single day doesn’t matter. He can fall in love, break his heart, try to die…then try again when he wakes up. Realize that doesn’t work, so do everything else in between. After a while you are living in the moments that Phil can remember, since nothing really matters to him.
What is so interesting about Groundhog Day is it’s one of the few movies you can accept has a limited idea of characters. The supporting cast is great, no doubt about that, but the characters themselves literally never change. They all wake up the same way, it’s only their interaction with Phil that can change. Rita (Andie MacDowell) has only known Phil for a few days, but Phil has days, months, years to get to know Rita. Larry (Chris Elliot) is the simple cameraman and only comes in to give updates on the situation with the van, but you see just how much he wants to find love. Every background character is so lively that it feels like a comforting town.
That star, of course, is the true masterpiece. This may actually be my favorite Bill Murray movie, it is a hard tie with his performance of Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters. Here it is all him though. 100% Murray goodness. His expressions, his timing, his charisma (and at times, lack of) carry you throughout. Honestly this movie wouldn’t work with anyone else, and it is the team of Ramis and Murray that create comedy gold. I feel bad at times for the co-stars, they have to play off his personality and that can’t be easy.
I usually take time to take a level headed look at a film and see what problems it might have. Usually, but not here. I love everything about Groundhog Day. I think that the very core of the film works for it’s concept and execution. It works so well in a bubble, a perfect capsule of the best ideas put together with a stellar cast and crisp writing. It does come off as a “very 90s movie” because it IS a very 90s movie. But as the movie only takes place over course of one day over and over again, it can be that style and never feel outdated. I think the ideas presented are told in a way that is fun for kids to watch while also having enough substance for adults to ponder once the credits roll. It does have potentially heavy moments, but never played too seriously. When there is heartbreak you feel for Phil, and also come away knowing that he wasn’t that nice of a person to begin with. It all wraps into a wonderful warm blanket of a movie.
Have you seen Groundhog Day? What do you think? What would you do if you had one day to relive over and over again? Comment and check back in for the next review!