Today: July 17, 2024

Groundhog Day

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today.

Okay,
campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out
there today.

Do ya think
Phil is gonna come out and see his shadow?

Punxsutawney
Phil!

That’s right,
woodchuck-chuckers – it’s GROUNDHOG DAY!

If you have heard this quote many a time then you will
already be familiar with Groundhog Day,
arguably one of the best and original comedies of the 90s.

Sarcastic and egotistical TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is sent to cover the story
of the annual Groundhog Day festival in the small town of Punxsutawney in
Pennsylvania. He is resentful of
having to cover such a trivial story, believing himself to be too good for such
an assignment and does everything in his power to make those around him aware
of this. However after a raging blizzard
(which he himself did not predict), he becomes stranded in the town alongside
producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and
cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott). On waking the following day, he
discovers to his horror that it is still exactly the same day as before: the same broadcast on his clock radio,
the same weather and the same people with the same conversation. Time for him is stuck in an infinite
loop, no matter what he does or how he reacts he is always back at where he
started. Can he ever escape
Groundhog Day?

Fresh from 80s fame from roles in Ghostbusters, Caddyshack
and a Little Shop of Horrors cameo, Murray
is quite simply utterly hilarious as Phil Connors, bringing his usual dose of
cynicism and comedy timing. Fellow
Ghostbusters star and Caddyshack director Harold
Ramis
returned to direct this one and the combination of his imaginative
direction and Murray’s performance makes for great comedy within a surreal and
complex plot. There are so many
variations on the events of one day, with Phil responding to each in a range of
ways. Ramis then throws in cuts at
just the right moments and makes what should be a tedious, repetitive tale in
to something much more engaging.

While Murray ultimately carries the film, his performance is
boosted by the rest of the cast.
The otherwise bland MacDowell is sweet and funny here as Phil’s love
interest. The townsfolk, full of
the most irritating but well-meaning characters you could summon up in your
imagination, are led by a star turn by Stephen
Tobolowsky
as goofy insurance salesman, Ned Ryerson.

Groundhog Day may be hilarious but ultimately it is a movie
with a message. In many ways it is
similar to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (or of course Scrooged), with its love thy neighbour,
bad guy comes good morals. We
worry about what may happen in the future but what if we always knew what was
coming and just how much repetition can one person stand? This concept is a true test of Phil’s
patience, resolve and character.
He handles each day differently, moving from euphoric to even
suicidal. After his initial shock,
he uses his knowledge to his advantage:
learning to play piano over time to dazzle people later, stuffing
himself with food with no repercussions, finding out Rita’s favourite things in
life so he can woo her with ease the ‘next day.’ He then eventually he comes to realise that the power of
knowledge may not be enough to get what you want in life and be happy. However, this film does not patronise
its audience: Phil does not become
a completely different person as a result of his ordeal, just a much nicer
version of himself.

You may not be able to get Sonny and Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’
out of your head for a good few days afterwards, but Groundhog Day is a fantastic
winter family movie. It will be a
joy to add to your Blu-ray collection for Murray’s one-liners alone.

Misha Wallace - Social Media Editor

From the age of 4, Misha Wallace became transfixed by movies like Halloween and The Birds from behind the couch, unbeknownst to her family. This has developed in to an obsession with fantasy and horror films (and a considerable number of cheesy 80s and 90s flicks – but she will not be judged). If she was a character in a film she'd be the girl at the end of a horror movie, doused in blood but grinning victorious. Email: misha.wallace@filmjuice.com or find her any time of the day or night on FilmJuice social media.

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