Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Groundhog Day (1993) [PG] *****

Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is a Pittsburgh TV weatherman. He's bored, cynical, and fed-up with everything about his job, especially the annual 85-mile pilgrimage east to Punxsutawney, PA to report on Punxsutawney Phil, a large groundhog who predicts the weather. According to tradition, when Phil emerges from his Gobbler's Knob burrow on Groundhog Day, February 2nd, if he sees his shadow it means six more weeks of winter weather. Making the trip with Phil are Larry (Chris Elliott) his cameraman, and Rita (Andie MacDowell) his new producer, who drives Phil crazy with her enthusiasm and optimism. They videotape the event, but a blizzard forces them to stay the night in Punxsutawney, and when Phil's alarm awakens him at 6AM, he discovers that it's Groundhog Day all over again.

Day after day this happens - each morning at 6AM he awakens and starts Groundhog Day all over again. Phil discovers that he can't change anything, and that nothing he does has any consequences. At first he lives only for pleasures and thrills, enjoying gluttony, armored car theft and pleasures of the flesh. But after failing to seduce Rita, Phil becomes depressed and tries several forms of suicide, all without success. And so, gradually Phil begins to change himself; he explores self-improvement - studying French, piano and ice sculpture. Next he discovers service - rescuing people from injury and death. Finally Phil realizes that what he really wants is a deep, loving relationship with Rita.

This is a wonderful story about personal growth; Danny Rubin's screenplay is wildly creative with well-crafted scenes and memorable dialog. Director Harold Ramis elicits endearing performances from Murray and MacDowell, who have good romantic chemistry, and he also gets fine supporting performances from Chris Elliott and from Stephen Tobolowsky as Ned, an old high school classmate of Phil's. If you enjoy stories about people trapped by time, like Pleasantville, you won't want to miss Groundhog Day. 

Labels: comedy, fantasy, romance, space-time
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 72/100
Tomatometer (critics=96, viewers=87)