How this 1993 comedy classic meets well with age over and over again.
Harold Ramis’ 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day” is a hilarious one. A sweet and lovable hit that repeats itself with the right intentions. It’s the comedy that inspired a number of comedies of its kind like “Happy Death Day” and “Palm Springs.” It celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and while we’re annoyed that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, which means 6 more weeks of winter, we should still remember the comedy and messages this Bill Murray comedy offered.
5 years ago, I did an article celebrating its 25th anniversary. Now, it’s 30, here’s a better, more insightful take.
Murray stars as a self-centered Pittsburgh weatherman named Phil Connors (“Yeah, like the Groundhog Phil”), who has to travel to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania with his new producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and cameramen Larry (Chris Elliott) to cover the town’s latest Groundhog Day event. He could care less about the event.
He wants to get out of town ASAP, but a blizzard prevents him from doing so, and he can’t get any phone connections. And the next morning, he wakes up with same song (Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe”), the same morning radio announcement, the same characters (like Stephen Tobolowsky as an insurance salesman named Ned), and the same day.
It has become apparent to Phil that no matter what happens that day, there won’t be anymore consequences for him. He can kill himself, and he’ll still wake up the next day. He can get himself arrested, and the next day the police will forget he broke the law. He even uses the opportunity to hit it off with Rita, by remembering what she likes and dislikes, even if it means she has to slap him over and over and over again.
“Groundhog Day” is genius when Murray struggles with the repeats and learns from his mistakes to make himself a better person. This is one of my favorite roles from him, because of how the actor knows how to hold his deadpan humor in the most unexpected situations. And MacDowell adds a nice touch as his producer and love interest, because of her sassy and delightful characteristics.
This is one of Harold Ramis’ best works, and he manages to repeat things without being annoying or routine. Just because it’s on repeat doesn’t mean it has to be annoying. In fact, it’s all about learning from mistakes, and overcoming them. It’s one of those movies where they want to turn the most unlikable people into likable people, because they learn lessons. And if Phil learns all he needs to know, he’ll be able to wake up the next day. In fact, this movie should also be a training video for those trapped in a time warp.
Again, we’re stuck with winter for a few more weeks, but “Groundhog Day” should be a wake up call for you. See it again, or experience it for the first time, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.