Groundhog Day

     Groundhog Day – “If you gotta shoot, aim high.  I don’t wanna hit the groundhog.”  As Feb 2nd is just around the corner, it reminds me of one of the best romantic comedies made.  It’s brilliant, clever, touching, romantic, and most of all…also funny.  The best part is that it is not too cheesy with the sappy, romance stuff.  It’s more realistic in that he makes monumental mistakes over and over and over again.  The comedy is perfectly intigrated into the story and keeps you entertained as Phil (Bill Murray) learns about himself and others around him.  This is a movie you’ll watch over and over again….pun intended.  Rated 96% at Rotten Tomatoes and 4.5 stars at Amazon.com, this is a guaranteed winner.  In 2006, the movie was accepted into the US Nation Film Registry for being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

Plot – A self-centered & sour weatherman, Phil (Bill Murray), the producer Rita (Andie MacDowell), and goofy cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott) head to Punxsutawney, PA to cover the annual Groundhog Day celebration.  Phil is tired of this ritual and just wants to get out, but a blizzard shuts down the roads and they’re forced to stay.  But, Phil wakes up the next day and…well, it’s Groundhog Day again.  He’s confused and originally freaked, but as the day keeps repeating, he starts taking advantage of the situation.  First he starts by hedonistically abusing town members and tries to get closer to Rita, but this continually fails.  Growing more despondent and bitter, he tries to end it by killing the dreaded groundhog and including himself in various ways.  But, he wakes up the next day as good as new.  He talks to Rita who challenges him to improve himself.  He begins improving himself by learning the people, helping them, and then by improving himself as a person.  He finally is able to romance Rita for 1 kiss and convinces her to stay the evening to see what happens…..

Commentary – How the story is portrayed is the brilliance of the film.  It’s realistic in how one might react in that circumstance and that Phil doesn’t magically become some “good person” just because he is tormented.  He doesn’t get to win easily or suddenly become brilliant.  As Phil describes in the movie, you can plan the perfect day, but “it just takes an awful lot of work.”  And, the best part of the film is that the viewer is never let in on what caused it, what stops it, or how long this situation continues for Phil.  To do so would have destroyed the film by having people focus on what caused the situation rather than the story of Phil’s development into a “good person”.  NOT telling you is the brilliance in the film.  But, that doesn’t mean some hints are not in the film.

Trivia – An early draft of the script provided a reason for Phil’s situation.  An ex-lover places a voodoo spell on him to teach him a lesson.  Bill Murray was actually bitten by the groundhog twice during filming….probably felt some tension for what Phil’s character was trying to do to him.  Harold Ramis (director) originally considered Tom Hanks for the lead role, but felt that Hanks was too “nice” for the character.

** Just click the images to check out “Groundhog Day” at Amazon.com. **

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