Movie Review – Groundhog Day (Mini Review)

Principal Cast : Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brian Doyle-Murray, Marita Geraghty, Angela Paton, Rick Ducommun, Rick Overton, Robin Duke, Ken Hudson Campbell, David Pasquesi, Richard Henzel, Rob Riley, Hynden Walch, Michael Shannon, Les Podewell, Rod Sell.
Synopsis: A narcissistic, self-centered weatherman finds himself in a time loop on Groundhog Day, and the day keeps repeating until he gets it right.

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Perhaps the ultimate “time loop” story, Bill Murray’s 1993 comedy Groundhog Day has become a metonym for repetition of any kind, thanks to the wonderful plot conceit and extraordinary performance of the film’s star. Sarcastic Pittsburgh television weatherman Phil Connors (Murray) becomes trapped in a perpetual time loop when he visits a small Pennsylvanian town to report on the ubiquitous Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog who is thought to be able to tell the length of winter each year, alongside cameraman Larry (Chris Elliot) and beautiful producer Rita Hanson (Andie MacDowell – Four Weddings & A Funeral). Reliving “Groundhog Day” over and over again, Phil’s curmudgeonly and unlikeable attitudes to life and those around him starts to soften as he realises there is more to his existence than fame and glory – and his using of his near immortal gift allows him to woo, and eventually fall in love with, Rita, one of the film’s more preposterous ideas but one that has captivated audiences for decades now.

Groundhog Day is an instant classic of the comedy genre. Mixing cinema’s purest premise, Bill¬† Murray’s easygoing charm and Harold Ramis’ pitch-perfect direction of a wide, wonderful ensemble cast, Groundhog Day has birthed innumerable discussions both psychological (one calculation puts Phil’s repetition of the same day going on for nearly 34 years!), metaphysical (there’s aspects of immortality within the framework) and philosophical (themes of predestination, fate and destiny have been espoused by fans throughout the years) but there’s one thing it isn’t: anything but wonderful. Bill Murray plays himself yet again on screen, a wry, somewhat garrulous and grumpy weatherman who has a general disdain for authority, his lot in life, and everyone around him, but he softens as he comes to love Rita’s softly-spoken loveliness. For her part, Andie MacDowell is typically straight as a bat in her performance as Rita, asked to do very little comedy alongside her far funnier co-star, while Chris Elliot’s wimpy cameraman Larry is the go-between for the pair, the third wheel in this duo of romantic entanglement. The terrific ensemble – including a hugely memorable performance by the hilarious Stephen Tobolowky as Ned Ryerson) all bounce off Murray’s incredulity at his predicament, never one shattering the illusion that the poor man is indeed doomed to repeat the same day over, over, and over again.

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An undeniable classic, Groundhog Day remains as fun, funny and charming as it ever has; it’s surprising how a film about time failing to pass seems to have avoided the passage of time with its warmth and charm. It’s as lovely now as it was back in the early 90’s, and Bill Murray has rarely been better. I would even argue that of all his early career output, this film is his best work. Easily fitting into the category of “essential viewing”, Groundhog Day is a touchstone film for many people and it’s easy to see why. The film really is just appealingly wonderful.

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