Movie #353 2020: Groundhog Day (1993)

It’s release? 1993. But Groundhog Day is a movie that many already consider a ‘classic’.

Of course, everyone knows the basic premise of this movie due to its title, but let’s go into a little more context, shall we? Bill Murray stars as Phil Connors: a weatherman who every year is forced to cover a nearby town’s ‘Groundhog Day’; a North American tradition involving the town’s mayor appearing to announce how long the ensuing winter will be. (Ridiculous, by the way.) As Phil is noticeably grumpy and about to quit his job altogether, something very strange happens. You guessed it: he keeps reliving the same day over and over again, to mixed results each time.

Here’s the T. This movie inspired countless other movies and episodes of television since 1993. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s season 6 episode ‘Life Serial‘ comes to mind off the top of my head, as does horror-comedy Happy Death Day. And that’s just off the top of my head.) In truth, this is a premise that was so innovative that every writer since has been trying to emulate its greatness, and just like the movie, those attempts have come with mixed results.

Don’t shoot me: I don’t usually care so much for Bill Murray. Sorry ‘bout it. But in this case he’s simply so, so funny. Probably his most iconic performance, and yes, I’m including Ghostbusters in that statement. Even Andie MacDowell isn’t her usual forgettable self in this one. I guess the movie brought out the best in this cast, because each and every one of them is brilliant, but Murray steals the show completely.

 I wish I had no idea what this movie was about before I watched it, but that’s unavoidable. Groundhog Day is such a cultural phenomenon nowadays that everyone knows what a “Groundhog Day” is and people use it in every day conversation. Can you think of any other movies that have influenced modern language in such a way? I can’t. But do let me know if you think of any!

The best thing about this is that it makes you feel like you’re Phil’s pal – the viewer is the only one in on what’s happening to him. Unlike the premise for the film, I actually didn’t know how it was going to end, and that never happens. All I want is to not be able to guess the ending, and this gave me that feeling. It’s clear that some sort of happy ending will come out of it all, yes, but the way in which that manifests is not obvious at all, and that’s what’s so brilliant about it.

Well edited, brilliant script, stellar lead performance, good cinematography (the slow motion close up of the clock?!). The second movie in a row that I couldn’t find a major fault with. An absolute classic; the praise is certainly warranted.

Groundhog Day is available to stream on Netflix, Sky Cinema and Now TV in the UK.

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