February 2, 2011
Review - " Groundhog Day " - (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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worst day of his life. Teamed with a relentlessly cheerful producer (Andie MacDowell) and a smart-aleck cameraman (Chris
Elliott), TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog
Day festivities. But on his way out of town, Phil is caught in a giant blizzard, which he failed to predict, and finds himself stuck
in small-town hell. Just when things couldn't get any worse, they do. Phil wakes the next morning to find it's Groundhog Day
all over again... and again... and again...
It's deja vu gone mad. Groundhog Day is one of the most original comedies to grace the screen in months. With as much
repetition as there is, it would be easy for the film to get bogged down. Solid directing, combined with judicious editing,
eliminate the problem. The only time we see a scene repeated is when there's something new added, and even then
we are re-shown little more than what's necessary for the effect.
The humor is of a higher caliber than that found in most so-called comedies. Absent are the inane sight gags and puns.
Instead, Groundhog Day finds its humor in situations and characters. Making use of Bill Murray's talent as a comedian, the
film encourages him to play off of the more serious Andie MacDowell. While the chemistry between them isn't smouldering,
they work well together. Their characters' romance is credible because it's low-key.
A funny and well conceived
star vehicle, worthy of the
actor's talents Murray has too
rarely appeared in films worthy
of his comedic talent. Here his
old sparring partner Ramis, as
director and co-writer, gives
him a part tailored for his
It is a classic tale of redemption,
wrapped up in a brilliantly
simple narrative idea. Murray
is jaded weather man Phil
Connors who is yet again
forced to report from the
annual Groundhog Day
festivities in Punxsatawney PA.
Once there he finds himself
reliving, seemingly ad infinitum,
the same drab February 2nd.
It is never explained why this punishment is inflicted on Connors, but it slowly dawns on him that he is being given not merely
a second chance, but countless second chances.
What is surprising is that with "Groundhog Day" we have a movie by it's sheer nature is going to be repetitive and in lesser
hands it could have turned into a bore. But with director Harold Ramis on killer form the repetitive nature never raises it's
ugly head. It's the clever manipulation of a scene, a slight change in mannerisms or dialogue from one day to the next
makes each time a pleasure to watch as it will throw up a new joke which will make you smile.
And whilst Harold Ramis must take a lot of praise so must Billy Murray as sardonic weatherman Phil Connors. Murray is just
perfect for the role, delivering line after line of dead pan sarcasm but also with a restrained visual ness which is in no other
way brilliant. Just a slight change in his look followed by some clever dialogue and Bill Murray scores a laugh with pretty
much every joke. Even when Phil is despairing at his misfortune the laughs still roll despite an almost darker sense of
What is amusing is that "Groundhog Day" is such a captivating movie that it makes you forget certain things. We never get
an explanation as to why or how Phil is living in a reoccurring nightmare, although we can presume it is to teach him some
sort of lesson about living life for the right reasons. And because of the clever editing and writing we have no idea how long
Phil suffers living the same day, is it a few weeks, months, years the chances are it's years having spent time learning all
about different women, playing the piano and habits of those who live in Punxsutawney but it just flies right over your
head as you don't notice that time must be flying by.
What this all boils down to is that "Groundhog Day" is one of those rare comedies which never grows dull, it's a classic. It's
funny, ingenious, sweet as well as caustic and throws in an impressive message in amidst all the comedy. There are few
comedies which can still make you laugh when you known them inside out but "Groundhog Day" is one of those few thanks
to the directing of Harold Ramis and the brilliance of Bill Murray.
But there is also a message in "Groundhog Day" a message about living for the day because there maybe no tomorrow. But
not just living for yourself, but making a difference in the lives of others. It's not a message forced down your throat, it's just
an obvious, plain to see message as we watch the self centred Phil turn into someone who is a little nicer.
"What would you do if you were stuck in one place.... and every day was the same.... and nothing that you did mattered?" -
Having given up thoughts of
suicide after several
successful attempts, Connors
becomes a skilled criminal, an
expert ice-sculptor, a serial
womanizer, a gourmand, a
linguist, an accomplished
pianist, a great doer of good
deeds, a successful romantic
and, like George Bailey in the
not dissimilar It's A Wonderful
Life, the richest, most popular
man in town.
I like Groundhog Day more
each time I see it. It's a
unique comedy. This is another
charmer that will encourage
revisitation in the future - a very
good film to watch on a snowy
Directed by: Harold Ramis
Starring: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen
Doyle-Murray, Marita Geraghty
It's GROUNDHOG DAY!
"You want a prediction about the weather? You're asking the wrong
Phil," Bill Murray's character says in the movie "Groundhog Day." He
continues, "I'll give you a winter prediction: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna
be gray, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life."
That sounds about right for us in the Northeast, where we are once
again reaching for shovels, cities are preparing fleets of snow plows and
parents are fretting over a new round of school cancellations as another
strong winter storm sweeps in.
Can anything end this 'Groundhog Day' of a winter? For we
Massachusetts folks, the premise of "Groundhog Day" - about a guy who
wakes up each morning to the same miserable, snowy Feb. 2 - seems
far from fiction.
Because it is once again February 2nd, and because we are once again
saddled with miserable blizzard conditions, I decided to re-watch and
review the quintessential February holiday move - Groundhog Day
Bill Murray is at his wry, wisecracking best in this riotous romantic
comedy about a weatherman caught in a personal time warp on the
In fact Bill Murray is on such
good form in "Groundhog
Day" that he brings out the
best in his co-stars in
particular Andie MacDowell
who plays Rita his lovely,
glass half full producer. Now
I am not being nasty but
MacDowell seems to have
been cast because she is
gorgeous, she does have
this up beat persona and so
is perfect as an enthusiastic
producer who loves all the
tweeness of Punxsutawney.
Yet Murray brings out a real
ability for sweet comedy out
of MacDowell and she gets
some of the more funny yet