225. Groundhog Day

Movie: Groundhog Day

Release Date: February 12, 1993

Director: Harold Ramis

Starring: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott.

Tag Lines: “He’s having the worst day of his life…over and over…”

“He’s having the day of his life…over and over again.”

Relevance: In February of 1993, I was starting my final semester of undergrad college. I attended a small state school in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania where there was only one stop light, one McDonald’s, one bar and no fun to be had at all. There was not a movie theater in town. The closest one was forty-five minutes away. Without a car, I didn’t get to see a lot of theatrical releases during those four years except when I headed home for the summer. There wasn’t a chain video rental store either. One of the local stores did have VHS rentals but the pickings were few and far between. They did show movies on campus every week, but those were not new theatrical releases, only “somewhat” new rental releases. So it is not surprising that I did not see ‘Groundhog Day’ when it was released in theaters.

It wasn’t until my first semester of graduate school did I finally catch the film. That school was in a slightly bigger place (an actual city compared to town) in upstate New York with a heck of a lot more to do. Thank goodness. There were multiplexes and chain video rental stores everywhere and I felt much more comfortable and at home.

I rented ‘Groundhog Day’ in the fall of 1993 and watched it with my three roommates. It was on a weekend, so there was definitely some alcohol involved, but there was also a lot of laughter. I was already a Bill Murray fan and have enjoyed most, if not all, of his movies from the 1980’s. This is his second (see 293. Ed Wood for the first) of seven films to appear on my list of most influential movies of all time. My admiration for him did not falter in the 1990’s. I found ‘Groundhog Day’ to be fresh, original and funny as did all of my roommates. It was a movie that we watched a few times throughout that semester.

Now when I fall in love with a movie, I make sure that everyone knows. I talk about it, discuss it and recommend it to everyone that will listen and engage. So either on a visit home or through a “check-in” phone call with my mom, I told her about the movie. I said to make sure that she rented it as her and my dad will thoroughly enjoy it. I was 100% sure of it. However when I went home for holiday break I found myself being scolded and reprimanded for the movie recommendation. Apparently the rest of my family sat down to watch it and hated it. I believe the quote used was “I can’t believe Oliver recommended this movie.” I was stunned. They mustn’t have watched the same movie. But alas, they did. It was one of my first realizations that art really is both objective and subjective.

‘Groundhog Day’ remains one of my favorite comedy films of all time. I have watched it numerous times throughout the years. I firmly stand by my thoughts on the movie even though I have met many a persons in my life that dislike it as much as my family did. I find it endearing, funny and though-provoking. Considering that the phrase “Groundhog Day” has become a common term to reference a repetitive, unpleasant and monotonous situation is evidence itself that the film has had an impact on society. Not to mention that in 2006, the film was selected by the United States Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. So take that naysayers. Again, objective, subjective, tomato, tomatoe.

Today’s Thoughts: We all seem to be living some sort of “Groundhog Day” these days thanks to the global pandemic that took out almost two months of our lives. So what better time to watch this Bill Murray classic.

The movie still makes me laugh to this day. Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott and the entire ensemble are at the top of their comedy game. I think what I like most about the film is, yes, it’s funny, but the underlying philosophy of getting stuck in a rut and living our lives day to day without purpose is very relatable to me. What makes it work the most is Mr. Murray’s warm, ingenious performance. He truly is brilliant in the film. His character goes through an “Ebenezer Scrooge” redemption that changes his outlook on life but played very subtly. It might be that he had a little practice by playing a similar character a few years earlier in ‘Scrooged,’ another comic gem.

‘Groundhog Day’ is a movie that should be revisited and watched over and over again. I like this movie as much as I dislike the actual Groundhog Day. I find that day and its entire concept annoying as hell. However, I would like that day a lot more if TBS would give this movie the ‘A Christmas Story’ treatment. Why not play it twenty-four hours on February 2 every year? Makes total sense to me. I’d watch.

Awards: BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, Danny Rubin, Harold Ramis (winner), National Film Registry (2006), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay, Danny Rubin, Harold Ramins (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Netflix, DVD Availability.

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