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Groundhog Day (1993)

[Groundhog Day] Groundhog Day
Columbia Pictures, 1993
Rated: PG
Running Time: 101 minutes
Director: Harold Ramis
Producers: Trevor Albert & Harold Ramis
Amazon.com: NTSC DVD, NTSC VHS
Amazon.ca: NTSC DVD, NTSC VHS
Amazon.co.uk: PAL DVD, PAL VHS
TowerRecords.com: NTSC DVD, NTSC VHS
Recommended by: Greg Slade

Often when I am in a video rental shop, I opt for what I call a "fluffy comedy", and Bill Murray is usually good for a few laughs, so one time we picked up Groundhog Day.

What a surprise. Yes, Groundhog Day definitely qualifies as a "fluffy comedy." There are lots of laughs, and lots of silliness, and it isn't necessary to think deeply at all in order to enjoy it. And yet, I found myself "resonating" to the film for weeks afterwards. The plot is simple enough: a jerk goes through a rough time, and turns into a nice guy in the end. The idea predates Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and Murray also starred in an adaptation called Scrooged, which was considerably less effective than Groundhog Day. So why did Groundhog Day ring so true when so many others come across as trite? Partly, I think, is that the premise of Murray's nasty, cynical character going through the same day over and over and over again lets the film explore all of the possibilities Murray's character faces in his situation. In fact, he gets a good deal nastier before he begins to improve. Then, he starts trying to be good in a superficial way, and finally begins seriously trying to improve his own character. Only then does the cycle end, and time begin passing for him again. God is not mentioned in the film, but I almost felt as if the point was God saying to Murray's character, "Okay, you've finally learned that lesson. Now you can go on to the next one."

Note: The "PG" rating on this film is more warranted than it is for many of the others. Like many of Hollywood's "romantic comedies" these days, there are a number of sexual situations, and Murray's character ends up in bed with the female lead. For me personally, the profound change in Murray's character had enough of an impact that I still consider it a positive film. Others, of course, will disagree.

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