Tuesday, 2 February 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 140 - It's Groundhog Day... again

259 - Groundhog Day - 4 stars
One of the most original and greatest comedies of the nineties with Bill Murray in the role of a lifetime, or should that a lifetime in a role, as Phil Connors who is stuck within his own personal hell of Groundhog Day in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania.
There is a hint of It's A Wonderful Life to this story of a grouchy weatherman who is forced to relive the same day over and over in order to learn one of those Hollywood style "life lessons" and become a better person who has that one perfect day.
Normally this is achieved in a neat 100 minutes but for Phil the process takes years and years.  It is never explicitly said how long Phil is stuck in the time loop but director Harold Ramis said it would have probably been over 10 years (I think the screenwriter wanted it to have been thousands of years.
One of the great things about the film is that it never explains why or how this is happening to Phil, it just is.  We see Phil go through various stages during his many experiences in Groundhog Day; initial bewilderment, enjoyment, manipulation, despair and suicide, before finally attempting to better himself.  
Yet due to it's comedic tone, unable to explore the darker side of what someone could and probably would do if stuck in a time loop with no consequences to their actions i.e. torture, rape, murder, etc
It needed an actor like Bill Murray who could easily have the nasty attitude at the beginning yet convince the audience of his ability to change over the course of the film.
A special mention must go to Stephen Tobolowsky's Ned Ryerson. One of those truly great supporting characters, with what would have been very little on the page Tobolowsky creates a lasting impression. "Bing, watch out for that first step, it's a doozy!"
Would have received the rare honour of the five star review if it wasn't for the personality and talent vacuum that is Andie Macdowell!

Days remaining - 225 Films remaining - 294

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