What movie is crying out to you to be watched today? It cries out to be watched at this time every year. It says you can watch me again even if you watched me last year, and the year before that. Even one viewing says, “you’ve seen this before,” because you have – that’s it theme.
Of course the movie is Groundhog Day, released in 1993. If you haven’t seen it, I gotta ask….where in the world have you been living for the past 22 years?!? This is one of the best comedies ever made. Why it’s only number 34 on AFI’s 100 Funniest American Movies Of All Time is a mystery to me. It’s a romantic comedy, modern screwball comedy, with a fantasy element rolled into one simply marvelous film.
The ‘holiday,’ Groundhog Day, February 2, more or less demands a viewing of the movie. It’s my understanding, in the state of Pennsylvania, not watching it every February 2nd is a misdemeanor.
If you have seen it, which most of us have, right? Well, what are you waiting for? Stop reading this blog, pull it out and start watching it. No matter how many times you’ve seen it, it’s still laugh out loud funny.
Another reason I like the film, on a more serious note, is that it reminds me that I need to drop habits that make life worse. I can’t keep doing things the same way, every day, and expect a different outcome. There needs to be daily movement towards goals, towards improvement, if I want a different result for my future.
A quick reminder/intro to the film:
Phil (played by Bill Murray) is not a happy person. He’s an unpleasant person to say the least. He’s bored with his job as a TV news weatherman and he hates the fact that he’s again been given the assignment of traveling several hours to cover the Groundhog Day activities in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
With much grumbling Phil goes through the motions to do the story for the news broadcast, but then he’s prevented from heading home because of severe weather. Phil and Larry (Chris Elliott) his cameraman and Rita (Andie MacDowell) his producer, must spend the night again in Punxsutawney.
When Phil wakes up, he’s finds he’s living the previous day, Groundhog Day, all over again. But he is the only one aware that the same day’s events are repeating exactly as the day before.
That night he goes to sleep only to wake up to repeat the day over again. Frustrated, Phil sighs, “Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”
It sounds repetitive, and it is, but the story and Phil go through different stages. Directed by Harold Ramis, who sadly, died last year, Ramis also wrote the screenplay with Danny Rubin. It’s funny, clever, at times a little bizarre, and in the end, pure comedy in top form.
I’ve always loved movies where there’s movement toward redemption. Here, the transformation isn’t forced, and it makes total sense because Phil just get’s tired of being a jerk. So he starts trying to do the right thing once in a while, and builds on that.
There’s so much more, but I’ll just say it’s one of my all time favorite movies. It’s not in my Top Ten Favorites, but I’ve been recently working on my Top 25. Putting together a Top 25 isn’t easy because I have about 50 or more films fighting to get into that Top 25. But Groundhog Day, if it’s not in my Top 15, it’s close.
The film leaves me with the inspiration to take steps to make today better than yesterday, make plans for the future, to make tomorrow better than today. But that’s not why I watch Groundhog Day every year. It’s for the smile it puts on my face throughout the movie.
So, before you start making a list and checking it twice to find that perfect ‘Romantic Flick’ for Valentine’s Day, drop it into your DVD player or stream it on Netflix – and have a Happy Groundhog’s Day!
This movie review is part of a series of monthly posts. The movies I choose each month are films that I feel a personal connection with, to the story or characters. They may be films you might not have seen, classic’s you may have missed or maybe some I think are worth a second look. From “Classic Hollywood” black and white to the latest hits – Action/Adventure and Comedy to Coming of Age and Buddy Films.