Review: Groundhog Day / Cert: PG / Director: Harold Ramis / Screenplay: Danny Rubin, Harold Ramis / Cast: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott / Release Date: Out Now
Bill Murray and Harold Ramis' classic receives a timely Blu-ray re-release, packed with a whole host of exclusive special features. Best of all though – the full spectrum of Bill Murray's most sarcastic facial expressions, all in lovely HD.
In a day and age when Groundhog Day always seems to be on television, re-watching the film can seem like a perpetual February 2nd. Most will have seen this classic movie by now. But, like most classics, it's well worth frequent viewing. Murray and Ramis have made plenty of incredible and iconic movies in their time (most notably Ghostbusters, directed by Ivan Reitman) but for this reviewer's money, Groundhog Day is their very best.
Murray plays Phil, a sarcastic and cynical weatherman who is sent to a small American town to film a report on their yearly Groundhog Day festival. It's just another day in the life of an increasingly bored weatherman. Little does Phil know, however, he will be forced to re-live that day many more times. It quickly becomes too much, even for wisecracking Bill Murray. Wouldn't you be depressed if you had to listen to Sonny & Cher do I Got You Babe over and over and over again?
It's easy to forget just how black the comedy in Groundhog Day gets. Even beyond the repeated suicide of one of our most beloved comedy figures, there's the heartbreak, the loneliness and the despair. As Phil attempts to forge a meaningful connection with Andie MacDowell's Rita, it's almost heart-breaking. Groundhog Day brings us the performance of Bill Murray's career. Rarely can a movie sell a character's redemption as much as it does his nastiness in the first place. The fun in A Christmas Carol (and even Scrooged) is seeing Scrooge act like a hilarious bastard towards everyone, rather than his redemption at the end. But Phil's transformation from complete ass to loveable superhero (saving lives every day) feels completely natural and just a little adorable.
Groundhog Day is one of the most intelligent romantic comedies ever made. It's brilliantly acted, very funny, sweet and very clever. It's an existential romantic comedy in which the hero commits suicide several times and uses quite dubious methods to seduce his love interest. Yet it really is quite wonderful. Groundhog Day is one of those classics which is every bit as good as everyone says it is. Every movie collection deserves a copy. Those who haven't seen it already should do so forthwith. Those who have could do far worse than picking up this definitive release.
Like February 2nd, Groundhog Day deserves revisiting again and again. It'll make you a better person.
Extras: A Different Day: An Interview with Harold Ramis / The Study of Groundhogs: A Real Life Look at Marmots / newly discovered deleted scenes / The Weight of Time – a documentary on the making of Groundhog Day / audio commentary with director Harold Ramis.