Bill Murray is awesome. Totally fucking awesome. And sometimes he makes movies. Some people think that Ghostbusters is his best film. Some people are wrong. His best movie is actually Groundhog Day. Harold Ramis (Egon from Ghostbusters) directs this fantasy about a weatherman who gets trapped in time, doomed to relive his least favorite day of the year: Groundhog Day.
Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a cynical weatherman who dreams of moving forward career wise but finds himself stuck in a rut. He goes to Punxsutawney, PA to report on the yearly Groundhog Day festivities with his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and his cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott).
Phil is miserable. He complains about everyone and everything. He finds himself on assignment in Punxsutawney, PA reporting on a rodent with the same name as him. You know the routine, if Phil the Groundhog sees or doesn’t see his shadow then winter will or wont happen. Whatever. Somehow Phil the Weatherman finds himself repeating the same day. Over and over again.
At first he slowly pieces together the fact that he’s not going crazy. Everyone keeps doing the same thing, and he realizes that he’s not experiencing an extreme case of déjà vu.
He does what you would do if you find yourself reliving the same day over and over again. He explores all the possibilities the day has to offer. He tries to kill himself to no avail. He hits on the random girls around time. He hits on Rita. Eventually he falls in love with Rita. He uses his time loop to learn as much about Rita as he can. He learns to play the piano, he teaches himself French poetry, and he tries to make himself her ideal man.
Phil starts to explore every aspect of the day. He meets all the citizens of Punxsutawney and uses his knowledge for good and evil. He saves lives and he steals money. He manipulates people some days and helps them the next day, even though it’s always the same day. At one point he declares himself a God. But he eventually learns his place… he has to do things the right way for the right reasons before he’s allowed to escape his prison.
Groundhog Day is a perfect film. It’s a comedy, but it has an interesting philosophical message. It’s deep. It’s layered. It has Bill Murray in his prime. If you were trapped repeating the same day over and over again, this is what it would be like. It’s a fantastical, pseudo-documentary. It’s about life. You have hopes, dreams, despair, doubts, schemes, plans, backfires, monotonous repetitions and spontaneous miracles.
Groundhog Day is a universal film. Everyone knows what it’s like to be stuck somewhere that you don’t want to be. You want to escape, you can’t always succeed but sometimes you can. And that’s why you try. If you could only repeat the same day forever you might realize what life is all about.
At one point Phil is intent on saving an old homeless guy who seems doomed to die. A nurse tries to explain “Sometimes, people just die.” Phil replies, “Not today.” He can’t avoid the old man’s fate, but he keeps trying to save his life. You can’t control what happens, but you can control what you do, and that’s what matters.
Groundhog Day is a movie that you can watch with anybody. With your friends, with your family, with a girlfriend or casual acquaintance. There’s something for everybody. If you haven’t seen it, I feel sorry for you. Watch it now and I won’t judge you.
Critically Rated at 16/17