A funny thing happened when I watched this movie. It was Groundhog Day and we were snowed in. All the schools were shutdown and my wife, since she works at a school, was snowed in at home with me. We decided to celebrate by firing up the ‘ol Netflix account and streaming in the movie “Groundhog Day.” I had completely forgotten that this movie was on my list until a few days later I received a Blu-Ray copy of the film from Netflix. I kicked myself a bit because it meant a longer turnaround until I got the next movie on the list that I needed a physical disc to see. That said, let’s dive in and see how this pairing of Harold Ramis (director) and Bill Murray in 1993 turned out and if it is worthy of the accolades.
Should this film be considered a classic? Well, if you take the word of Roger Ebert or the American Film Institute, the answer would be an unqualified yes! The film follows meteorologist Phil Connor as he gets stuck in time. He ends up repeating Groundhog Day over and over and over. The film explores his response to finding out he is stuck in time. He tries to find his way out, than he goes about basically taking advantage of the townspeople, than he goes through a bout of suicidal insanity, and finally he begins to use his predicament for the betterment of the people around him. The film has its humorous moments and Bill Murray delivers a great performance and pulls off the transformation of his character well. Still, I had a hard time connecting with the film. I think it’s because Murray did such a good job making Phil an unlikable and manipulative jerk that I had a difficult time laughing at his antics or accepting his ultimate change and redemption. Murray played the jerk so well that it overshadowed the rest of the film and left me feeling underwhelmed when the final frames played. All that to say, I really don’t think this film deserves to stand among the all time greats.
Would I own this film? I don’t think so. Still, I will probably watch it again because, even though it’s not my favorite film, it is entirely watchable and has a number of great moments. It’s also worth watching just to understand what people mean when they say they are having a day like “Groundhog Day” or their job is like “Groundhog Day.” The film is definitely a pop-culture icon and it is well enough made that it is worth a look if you like what is basically a slightly darker than normal romantic comedy with a unique and entertaining plot device.