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!