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Film Review: Groundhog Day

Updated on December 20, 2016
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Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.

Background

In 1993, Harold Ramis released Groundhog Day which starred Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliot, Stephen Tobolowsky, and Brian Doyle-Murray, The film grossed 70.9 million at the box office.

Synopsis

Phil Connors is an arrogant weatherman for a local TV news station and loathes the annual Groundhog Day celebration and the town of Punxsatawney. Yet, he has to cover the event every year, making it so he always enjoys leaving. This year though, a blizzard forces him to stay the night and he wakes up the next morning to find that it’s still Groundhog Day, which everyone is celebrating again. It happens again the next day and only he seems to be aware of it.

Review

An interesting and hilarious film, Groundhog Day presents some really good character development that shows just how many times it takes to live the same day over and over again before a man changes who he is. The film starts off with Phill being cocky and arrogant, believing he’s God’s gift to weathermen, seen in how he actually says that he makes the weather and tries to get an emergency line because he’s a celebrity in an emergency. What's more is the only person he really seems to care about is himself and how he can just do the job and get out of this town, because he really hates everything about it, including every person he comes into contact with. When someone tries to make chitchat about the weather, he goes into a whole technical spiel and says that even his viewers are morons because viewers are people and people like blood sausage. He has just enough a screen presence to make himself appear approachable but off camera, he’s just a complete jerk to everyone.

It's also interesting to see the progress Phil has in going from one Groundhog Day to the next. At the beginning, he's visibly confused and thinks he was dreaming everything at first. However, when he realizes he’s living the same day over and over, he drinks and realizes he can do anything he wants with no consequences. So he does. It's notable that they’re not in order of boldness and brashness though because he starts out driving on train tracks and sending the police on a high speed chase one day, then eats all he wants the next day before getting explicit information about a random woman’s past, with which he uses to seduce her the next day. It’s really fascinating to see what that a guy like Phil will do when he realizes that that nothing he does has consequences because some of them are quite funny, like going to the movies dressed as Clint Eastwood’s character in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly or drinking a bottle of whiskey while appearing semi-psychic at Jeopardy.

At the same time, the film also goes into the depression he has in the middle of reliving the same day over and over again. Though Phil's a jerk, it’s hard to not have at least some compassion for when he snaps and starts committing suicide multiple times all in the hopes of getting out of the loop he's stuck in. His methods include electrocuting himself, getting hit with a car and jumping off a bell tower.

Then the film goes beyond Phil's depression and he starts trying to seduce Rita, spending day after day finding out what she likes and doesn’t just to get good with her. None of it works until he starts to actually fall in love with her. Following the aforementioned suicides, he talks to her about it and doing so begins the rise for him to get out of reliving Groundhog Day as he starts to realize he needs people just as other people need him. The homeless man is a great example of this. Phil keeps brushing him off day after day and then when he starts to have his personal realizations, he tries to befriend the homeless man and finds out that no matter what Phil will do, he can't stop the man from continually dying.

As a whole, his efforts to help the homeless man and get Rita to truly love him make Phil really want to be a better person. As such, after spending countless days doing whatever he wants and then countless days killing himself and then tries everything he can do to save the homeless man's life, he starts bettering himself. He spends day after day learning piano, learning French and saving people's lives and marriages. It’s not until Phil helps the entire town, has a mutual romance with Rita and betters himself both in personality and intellect can he move on to February 3.

5 stars for Groundhog Day

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.

Awards won

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Screenplay - Original

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Actress (Andie MacDowell)

BMI Film & TV Awards

  • BMI Film Music Award

British Comedy Awards

  • Best Comedy Film

London Critics Circle Film ALFS Awards

  • Screenwriter of the Year

National Film Preservation Board

  • National Film Registry

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Second Place - Best Screenplay

Nominated for

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Fantasy Film
  • Best Actor (Bill Murray)
  • Best Director
  • Best Writing
  • Best Costumes

Hugo Awards

  • Best Dramatic Presentation

MTV Movie Awards

  • Best Comedic Performance (Bill Murray)


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