Thursday, May 5, 2016

Groundhog Day - Flashback Review


Bill Murray. Gopher. Not Caddyshack


Groundhog Day  - 7/10


Have you ever gotten that weird sense of Deja Vu?

Bill Murray plays Phil Connors an arrogant, sarcastic, narcissistic TV anchorman who has to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Unhappy with his lot in life, his career and his lack of love, Murray generally takes his hate out on those that are around him, making him one of those characters that you love to hate, at first.

Murray can't wait for this day to be over with, it seems as though his character Phil, just doesn't care for anything anymore other than his producer Rita, played by Andie MacDowell. Phil gives a half-assed report on the day's events, all of which surrounds the main event, whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow. Spoiler alert: He does. Phil doesn't want to be in Punxsutawney any longer than he has to, so as soon as he's done with his report, he has everything packed up in the TV van so that they can make the long trip back to Pittsburgh.

The crew is unable to get out of town because of a freak blizzard that has everything locked down, so they head back, find a hotel to wait out the weather and get some rest. Murray wakes up the next day, refreshed and wanting to get on the road and to put Punxsutawney behind them. But, something about this day is wrong, all the people are acting as if it's still groundhog's day and Phil is having the exact same conversations as he had before.

Not realizing at first that he's the only one experiencing this phenomenon, Phil takes advantage of the situation, seeing as how he gets a re-do at life for one day, which is what we've all wanted at some point. But, why Groundhog day of all days? Why not Presidents day or your last day of work at your old job you hate before you start your new job at a career you've always wanted?

Murray has to endure this day over and over again, Ramis stated in the DVD that it was probably something like 10 or more years that Murray's character Phil relives the day, others have said somewhere around 10,000 years and some have said around 12,000 days. Either way, Murray's character Phil wakes up each day to experience Groundhog Day and he's the only one that can remember what had already happened.

Through the suicides, the hedonism, and the different attitudes ranging from party animal/life of the party to stealing Punxsutawney Phil and driving off a cliff, Phil's day starts over with Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe" waking him up. It isn't until after he has run the gamut of partying and being a general pain in the ass that he decides to work on himself. Phil learns a new language, how to play a musical instrument (piano), learns about everyone in town and decides to put other's first before himself. It's only then, that he's able to break the cycle, and he's able to move on with his life.

Groundhog Day is a movie that initially, at least on paper, would appear not to work as a movie. With Ramis, Murray, McDowell and Chris Elliot in the movie, as well as the great extra's they used, this movie is pretty flawless. Even though it's predictable, the movie doesn't leave you squirming in your seat with awkward moments or painful dialogue. Give Harold Ramis all the credit for being able to deliver a movie that starts off strong and get's weird as it goes along and gives us a payoff that's actually a nice way to wrap up the movie.

I don't think Ramis really ever got his due as a director. The man really knows comedy and comic timing, having cut his teeth with Playboy, National Lampoon, and SCTV for years before breaking into movies. Writing comedies like Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack and Stripes before landing on Ghostbusters with Akroyd. There are a ton of movies that Ramis wrote that would surprise you, but the man really knew his comedy. It's a shame that he's gone.

Groundhog Day is one of those shining moments for both Ramis and Murray, it's a comedy that doesn't take itself too seriously and it's an enjoyable ride from start to finish. Take some time to watch the movie again, and again, and again...

Groundhog Day (1993)
PG | 1h 41min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance | 12 February 1993 (USA)

A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again.
Director: Harold Ramis
Writers: Danny Rubin (screenplay), Harold Ramis (screenplay)
Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott



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