Groundhog Day: Movie Review

Watched Groundhog Day (again) on TV a few days back, one of my beloved movies.

Groundhog Day is about Phil (Bill Murray), a TV weatherman, who visits Punxsutawney, for the traditional Feb 2nd Groundhog Day festival. Phil is a self-absorbed man, snobbish, and unfriendly. He finds everyone to be a dim-witted stereotype, and hates going to the Groundhog Day festival for the 4th time. An attempt to escape from Punxsutawney immediately after the festivities are over is hampered by a blizzard. Dissappointed, he has to spend the night in the same hotel.

To his utter surprise and despair, when he gets up the next morning, it’s still Feb 2nd, Groundhog Day, all over again. He meets the same people on his way to the square where the festivities are happening as if for the first time. Other than him, everyone thinks and acts as if this is normal for them, as if this is the first Feb 2nd of the year.

This happens about 20-30 minutes into the movie, and then things start to get really interesting. He spends the day in much the same way, finding the same things happening to himself and others, and retires at night. Only to find it being Groundhog Day even the next day, and so on, and on.

His frustration and desperation lead to interesting interactions with his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell), whom he tries to explain what’s happening, in vain. A brain scan and visit to the couch follows with the same result. His social interactions take interesting turns and twists. He asks a young woman about her high-school and 12th grade English teacher, and the ‘next’ day, pretends to be her classmate, and ultimately, takes her to bed. After boozing with locals at a bar, he takes them on a dare-devil ride on a railway track.

Realizing he cannot get out of this ‘time lock’ until something changes drastically, he steals the Groundhog, and drives deep down a suicidal canyon. There are several other attempts to die. He does die, but his ‘next’ day starts the same.

All this while, he realizes that what he really wants, is to ‘have’ Rita. Elaborate attempts of his manipulation in finding out about her and then ‘using’ that to get closer to her, don’t work. He is not being truthful – neither to her, nor to himself.

By this time, the movie is already worth the ticket. There are plenty of amusing laughs and smart-liners to keep you hooked. Then, there’s the turning point. Slowly, enlightenment dawns on Phil. He starts seeing things and people in a different way.

What happens next? Does Phil get out of the time lock? Do Rita and Phil get together? Watch the movie to find out!

There is so much to learn from this simple, yet profound movie! Apart from simple humanitarianism, there’s also self-discovery, personal growth, and self-development. The movie makes you think, period.

George Fenton’s music is pleasant throughout, while Jazz frequently provides a welcome interlude. The editing is great – some of the scenes that are repeated over and over for many days are especially a worthwhile study. They start with the exact same dialogue and exact same expressions, and then evolve differently as days go by, without any visible ‘cuts’. This is very skillfully achieved.

Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell do a great job as well. I don’t like Andie much, and this is the only movie where I’ve liked her. Bill has never disappointed, and always entertains. His timing is impeccable.

Overall, the movie strikes the right balance between pure entertainment and making you think about things.

Main Cast: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell
Music: George Fenton
Direction: Harold Ramis
IMDB: Link
Review Rating: None. I don’t think it’s worth my while writing or your reading, about movies that I wouldn’t recommend very highly! 🙂

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  • Brilliant movie. I use this movie to stimulate discussions on how to break out a rut and unchanging paradigms at work. Whether they get it or not, they just enjoy the movie anyway 🙂

  • Wow. Never thought of ‘applying’ this movie to work environment for a team discussion. Creative idea!