Groundhog Day (1993 USA)

I think one of the smartest ideas here is that the setting, pure and simple: it could be anywhere but nowhere important. Of course, it is important for our character to get stuck in the middle of nowhere – then it wouldn’t come as such a curse to spend every day on a nice island or a big city. Here monotomy hits us hard. And here comes the life lesson: people in their 30s & 40s can easily get the metaphor, that ‘every day looks the same’. We work, sleep, eat, …. and what else? Something is missing, right? Maybe words that begin with L and H.

There’s really not a lot you can say about Groundhog Day that hasn’t been said before. It’s unlikely that anyone remotely interested in Bill Murray would have long since seen it by now, and in all likelihood loves it because it’s right up there as one of his top five motion pictures. That it has struck such a chord over the years is no surprise as it’s a genius premise. Grumpy misanthrope TV weather man, Phil Connors ( Bill Murray) is once again sent out to Punxsutawney to cover the Groundhog Day festivities. It’s a place he considers as dull as ditchwater, populated by hicks, the festivities pointless, and beneath the broadcasting talent he feels he has. The plan is to get the broadcast done and get out, pronto. But a snowstorm prevents him leaving and waking up the next day he finds he is stuck in the same Groundhog Day as the day before, and soon he finds that every day is the same day. Not trying to explain how this time travel occurs may annoy some, but I’m willing to go with the flow.

The plot may be a sentimental thing at the end of the day but since the plot is simple it leaves a lot of space for things to repeat. The message– when it comes– is good –enough, about becoming a better person and learning to care for others blah blah. The key to the film, however, is the space where things just repeat. This leaves Bill Murray plenty of time to let his sarcastic wit run riot, pretty cruel at the start then turning gentle towards the end. His impact on the film is immeasurable. Unless you hate him then he makes the whole film work. The rest of the cast is made up of plenty of well-known faces from similar comedy films. Andie MacDowell may not have been the best choice for a love interest but she’s actually not too bad compared to how vapid she can be. The rest of the cast has the likes of Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky, Doyle-Murphy etc. A whole pile of “where have I seen him before?” types.

Now the downside: much as I like many elements of this film – Murray’s poker-faced one-line gag delivery is perfectly timed, it contains a slightly insidious anti-male theme that invariably leaves a sour taste. Murray’s character is a fairly ordinary guy with ordinary vices. He is certainly no worse than his assistant. When asked what kind of man would meet her preference, about the only virtue Andie MacDowell omits to stipulate is the colour of her imaginary paragon’s halo. Yet she herself hardly matches those aspirations, and we infer that being female she has no need to. It is this entrenched judgementalism of maleness – especially by a female who possesses no especial merits herself – that I find so inherently sexist. Why should he have to be a diplomat, doctor, professional pianist, ice-sculptor, etc just to win the preference of a comparatively ordinary woman? Why should the selection-procedure be so one-sided and severe? Putting this tiresomely familiar motif to one side, I have to give credit to director Harold Ramis, and screenwriter, Danny Rubin, for achieving such an enjoyable end result that is both modern yet unmistakeably 1950s in its undertone.



  1. I enjoyed reading this review, thank you for offering fresh perspective on the film! I haven’t seen it in a while but I do remember Rita’s laundry list of qualities that her perfect man must possess was OTT…Phil practically had to turn into Jesus by the end ha ha!

    Liked by 1 person

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