Saturday, November 16, 2013

Movie #225: Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is a 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell and directed by Harold Ramis.

Phil Connors (Murray) is a Pittsburgh weather man who is almost completely egocentric. He has very low opinion of people in general, and somehow has the balls to consider himself a "celebrity." He gets sent tPunxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the groundhog coming out to see his shadow. Not entirely thrilled by this, he is also saddled with a plucky new producer (MacDowell) who's entirely too happy for his tastes.

Arriving in town, he does his job, and they try to head home...but get stopped by a blizzard and forced back. The next morning, he wakes up...and it's groundhog day. Again.

This continues. Phil goes about his day, and then quickly realizes he's reliving the same day, over and over. No one else notices (and indeed, the other people around him go about their day very predictably), but Phil learns everyone's routines and exploits that knowledge. He gets to know people and their routines, and steals money, gets laid, and generally enjoys knowing that no matter what he does, it has no consequences. He sets his sights on Rita, putting himself up to the challenge of seducing her...but can't, because she can see through his false sincerity.

He gives up (which I think is a really important point, because eventual redemption is not based entirely on Rita) and despairs, killing himself multiple times, but that doesn't help either. And then, with Rita's help, finally shakes himself out of his depression, using his eternity to learn languages, poetry, music, and, more important, to learn and help the citizens of Punxsutawney.

I really like this movie, in large part because Bill Murray is so awesome as an insufferable jerk, but he's not actually a horrible person, he's just really selfish. He learns to get out of his own head, and that becomes his redemption. It's not about Rita, it's about, incidentally, becoming worthy of a real, grown-up relationship.

One issue I had: There's a side plot with an old homeless man that, when Phil finally notices him and tries to help him, dies every night. Phil takes him to the hospital and tries to save him, but can't. And then he figures that he can't, and the subplot just kind of goes...nowhere. I'd really have liked to have seen some kind of resolution to that, even if it's just a conversation with Rita about death and how everyone only has so much time - could have been poignant.

But even then, it's good stuff, and family friendly enough that my daughter really liked it.

My grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: The Gruffalo