Friday, June 1, 2012
(February 1993, U.S.)
Bill Murray's character in GROUNDHOG DAY of Pittburgh TV meteorologist Phil Connors is, to put it bluntly, just my kinda guy! He's self-centered, impatient, cynical, gets almost physically sick when strange people are overly nice to him and generally holds the opinion that all people are morons (what's NOT to love about the guy, right??). The movie's lesson here is that he's going to relive the same day of February 2nd, Groundhog Day, over and over and over again until he "gets it right" and becomes a more decent human being. This concept is about as cliche as changes in human characteristics can possibly get and I suppose it's nececssary for the right message to come across and the film to be successful. For a guy like me, though, I don't necessarily WANT Bill Murray to change at all.
But lets's take a look at the day in question here. Having to awake at 6 am anywhere in the world is bad. Having to wake up to hear Sonny & Cher sing "I Got You, Babe" doesn't make things any better. Having to repeatedly do a stupid news story about a town getting together to pay tribute to a large groundhog known as "Punxsutawney Phil" might just as well be your death sentence. Hey, wait, but the day also allows you to do whatever the fuck you want to without any consequences because the next day will just start over the same way anyway. So go ahead - drive recklessly, eat all you want and commit whatever deception necessary to get yourself laid by Nancy Taylor. On the more sensitive side, though, it affords you the opportunity to repeatedly try to win over the girl you're interested in (especially if she's Andie MacDowell) even if she's constantly slapping you in the face day after day. Best of all, in my opinion, is the daily opportunity to act and REact just the right way to the obnoxious asshole who insists he remembers you from high school and just won't shut his mouth. You all know I'm talking about perhaps the best character in the film of Ned Ryerson (played perfectly by Stephen Tobolowsky). This man is your worst nightmare on a long plane ride, let alone just a few moments on the sidewalk. In the end, though, because cliche always tends to win over the situation, Phil Connors learns to use his "daily" powers to selflessly help others, win over the girl, and generally just be an all around nice guy. Yeah, right, blah, blah, blah, blah! Well, what the hell...it's a funny movie and that's all that really matters.
Would you belive that when I first saw GROUNDHOG DAY, I just presumed that not only was Punxsutawney a fictitious town in Pennsylvania, but that also the entire groundhop worshipping event on the day itself was made up for the film. Imagine my surprise (and possibly even my disappointment) when I later learned from NBC's Al Roker that the town was real and the moronic events themselves were real, too. Seriously???
Favorite line or dialogue:
Phil Connors: "This is pitiful! A thousand people freezin' their butts off waiting to worship a rat! What a hype! Groundhog Day used to mean somethin' in this town! They used to pull the hog out and they used to eat it! You're hypocrites! All of ya! You got a problem with what I'm sayin', Larry? Untie your tongue and you come out here and talk, huh? Am I upsetting you, princess? You know, you want a prediction about the weather, you're askin' the wrong Phil! I'll give ya a winter prediction...it's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life!"