Wednesday, February 26, 2014

[Mini Review] Groundhog Day (1993)

DIRECTED BY: Harold Ramis
STARRING: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliot 
RATING: 4.5/5 stars

I had plenty of opportunities to see this classic comedy growing up as it was often shown on free to air TV which is a bit ironic given what the film is about; but I was never really interested or in the mood each time it was on. But with the very recent and sad passing of the film's director Harold Ramis and the out pouring of tributes from my fellow film buffs, many sighting Groundhog Day as one of their favourites really enticed me to finally see it, so I did just that.

On assignment in a small town to cover a winter festival, a cynical weatherman named Phil (Billy Murray) finds himself living the same day over and over again.

I went in expecting this to be a somewhat disorientating and tedious experience as it was naturally going to be very repetitive but it's executed extremely well. Many of the moments and scenes are of course repeated numerous times but they're never overplayed and each time they're different. The film does a great job of jumping to different key moments in Phil's day which brings something new each time round, it's a wonder mix and incredibly funny. I love how the tone often changes in relation to Phil's attitude and his feelings towards the very bizarre situation he finds himself in. One minute it's hilarious, then it's heartbreaking, touching and inspiring. It's an emotional ride watching this character evolve and realising some harsh realities along the way. The film ends on a very optimistic note which I found to be very reminiscent of some of Frank Capra's films, such as 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'You Can't Take it with You'.

Bill Murray is excellent as Phil, the film is a real showcase of Murray's comedic talents. He brings so much to the role and I've never seen someone make suicide looks so hilarious. Andie MacDowell is very pleasant as Phil's colleague and eventual love interest Rita, she brings a very warm quality to all the scenes she's in. An absolutely beauty actress.

I haven't seen every film directed by Harold Ramis but I think it's safe for me to say that Groundhog Day is his most skilfully directed film and his screenplay that he co-wrote with Danny Rubin is brilliant and very well thought out. Harold Ramis leaves us a legacy of laughter with this iconic comedy as one of his greatest achievements.

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