- Gareth Crook
Groundhog Day (1993)
Groundhog Day has taken on a life way beyond its 90s comedy status. The day itself before, was known only in America as being synonymous with the weather. That completely changed when the late Harold Ramis wrote this Bill Murray vehicle. Now it’s a worldwide pop-reference for repetition. So simple, utterly fantastic, absolutely hilarious and much more than just an endless loop. Has Bill Murray ever starred in a bad film? Probably, but I don’t think I’ve seen it. Murray you always feel is playing his characters with a good dash of himself included. Bill doesn’t give a shit does he and neither does is character here, whether it’s nasty Bill at the start or the reborn nice Bill at the end, Bill still has his edge. He feels so natural, it’s easy to believe it’s all improvised. He’s brilliant. Andie MacDowell is the opposite, she’s bloody annoying, as sickly sweet as the small American town in which it’s set. There’s an odd message to this film though, it seems to be about redemption, a bad soul making amends, but there’s an undercurrent of manipulation that’s quite sinister and points out some of the worst elements of some human nature. True, Phil does eventually find redemption after a lot of soul searching, comedy japes, worthwhile life experiences and deep suicidal depression... hey even that’s given a light hearted twist. But it’s troubling to see how long it takes him... an estimated 34 years! I love rewatching these kind of films, it’s amusing to spot little things you may have missed before, be it little details or even actors, who were unknown at the time, like Michael Shannon playing the newly-wed Wrestlemania enthusiast. Yes it’s schmaltzy romcom territory, complete with an end sequence that doesn’t quite add up in the interests of happiness, but despite a few formulaic tropes, Groundhog Day is masterful. The premise, the arc, the characters (annoying or not), the intentionally choppy timeline, all of it barrels along beautifully... and at its centre, Bill Murray. “I’m A God, I’m not The God”. Bill, I couldn’t agree more.