It would have been nice to post this review last Saturday, but oh well, here we go.
Groundhog Day is one of those films I could watch every couple of years, thoroughly enjoy, and probably pick up a few things I’d missed.
Phil Conners (Bill Murray) is an arrogant, self-centered weatherman from Pittsburgh who is sent to cover Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney and ends up in an endless time loop where he re-lives that day. He initially despises the conundrum he’s in, and shows it by a combination of getting arrested and committing suicide in a number of ways. Inevitably though, he wakes up in the same bed, in the same loop, reliving February 2. He then turns to making a difference in peoples’ lives and winning over his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell).
It goes without saying that Bill Murray carries this movie. I can’t think of anyone else who could have done better. His collaboration with Harold Ramis would end up being the last for some time (They had a falling out even though they’d worked together many times before), but Ramis and Danny Rubin wrote a great script that Murray and the rest of the cast really brought to life. This was in the middle of a string of great movies for Murray (Scrooged, What About Bob?) and his humor really comes through as Phil.
Andie MacDowell is charming as Rita, and it’s interesting as her relationship with Phil evolves throughout the film. Stephen Tobolowsky as Ned Ryerson is brilliant. He makes you want to punch him out as Phil does on one of the days.
There has been speculation as to how many times Phil re-lives Groundhog Day before he moves on at the end of the film. The film shows February 2nd 34 times. However, when you take into account how many different skills and relationships Phil builds with people, it seems like it would take a number of years. He is an expert at the piano and ice sculpting, saves a kid who falls out of a tree, saves one of the Groundhog Day officials from choking, and so on and so on. Only years of reliving that day could put Phil in the right situation at the right time as many times as he does by the end of the film. Ramis has said that it could have been 30 or 40 years when you consider how many things Phil has mastered by the end of the film. Tobolowsky said 10,000 years, though I think that’s way too much.
I enjoy Groundhog Day every time I see it. I want to say some of the elements of the film seem dated, but not very many. Obviously the presence of social media and things of that sort didn’t exist in 1993, but the film, kind of like Phil Conners’ conundrum, remains timeless.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.