Before I get into this, I just want to make it clear to you that Groundhog Day is one of my favorite comedies of all time and Bill Murray is a great hero of mine, so you’ll get little objectivity from me.
Groundhog Day is the 1993 classic comedy about a weather man stuck on the titular day of the same year, doomed to repeat it over and over again for no reason and with no hope of escape.
You can’t help but laugh at this trailer – on the one hand, there’s some funny stuff there. On the other hand, it’s got that really silly trailer voice over style and script that makes you cringe: lines like, “But he’s about to find out…” and “But now, he’s discovering…” Also, the shot with Phil punching Ned in the face is not the take that appears in the movie, but whatever. The character actors are great, Bill Murray and Chris Elliot are hilarious, and Andie MacDowell is at her most tolerable. Harold Ramis directs, and does a damn fine job, too – I love his visual style and timing.
The most interesting thing you can say about Groundhog day is that the original screenplay contained elements that would have ruined the film, and making the movie ruined Harold Ramis and Bill Murray’s friendship for over a decade. Apparently, the screenplay opened in the middle of the narrative, Rita and Phil were both going through the loop together, an ex-girlfriend at channel six put a voodoo curse on Phil which initiates the time loop… Those were bad ideas.
All that aside, it’s fair to say that the movie raises questions that it doesn’t even attempt to answer, such as, “Why is Phil repeating the same day over and over?” or “What will it take to get the loop to end?” or “How long is Phil stuck in the loop?” or “What is causing the loop in the first place?” Answering any of these questions would have probably turned the movie into an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but the thing that makes Groundhog day such a great movie is that you never wonder about any of these questions for a second while you’re watching the movie because it’s done so well. The movie is a character piece, about how and why Phil changes and deals with situations as he grows into a better, more mature person. Groundhog day isn’t just one of the great offbeat comedies of the nineties, it’s one of the best films of all time. I have seen this movie an uncounted number of times – it never gets old, and I can’t imagine ever getting tired of it. Long live Groundhog day!
My Rating: 5 out of 5
I can’t stop there… here are a few of my favorite bits from Groundhog Day, completely out of context:
- PHIL: Be the hat!
- The scene where Phil tells Rita everything about everybody in the diner.
- PHIL: Well, my father was a piano mover, so…
- The suicide montage. What other movie has a suicide montage?
- PHIL: Rita! || NANCY: Nancy. || PHIL: Whatever.
- PHIL: Don’t play with me, pork chop! What day is this?
- PHIL: Don’t drive angry!
- PHIL: Intelligent, supportive, funny… Me, me, me… || RITA: He’s romantic and courageous. || PHIL: Me also.
- PHIL: I don’t know where you’re headed, but can you call in sick?
- The Jeopardy! scene.
- PHIL: Morons, your bus is leaving.
- Breaking the alarm clock montage.
- PHIL: Too early for flapjacks?
- When people dance to the first two songs at the party. What the hell are they doing?
- LARRY: He might be OK… [truck explodes] Well no, probably not now.
- All of the Ned scenes. PHIL: So, did you turn pro with that whole belly button thing, or…?
- PHIL: He’s got to be stopped. And I have to stop him.
- And this. Just watch this.