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USA 1993
Directed by
Harold Ramis
101 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Groundhog Day

Although the title of Harold Ramis’s film has passed into the lexicon of popular culture as referring to a sense of events repeating themselves, the film is much more than that, being a Capraesque story of personal transformation and the virtues of dear hearts and gentle people.

Cynical weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) learns to love his fellow men and women, specifically the denizens of Punxsutawney, P.A. where Connors, in the company of his producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell ) and cameraman (Chris Elliott) travel to report on Groundhog Day, a local midwinter community event at which they pretend that Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog, will predict how long it will be before Spring arrives. Connors has nothing but scorn for the yokels' tradition and can’t get out of town fast enough. But trapped by a blizzard he finds himself caught in time loop, repeating Groundhog Day endlessly, a condition to which everyone around him is oblivious..

I’m not sure about the logic of the story but Ramis gets the far-fetched and daring proposition to work seamlessly.  At first discombobulated, then attempting to use his privileged knowledge to bed his delectable producer we see Phil slowly worming his way into Rita’s affections. But the latter senses his dishonourable intent and try as he might, eventually, Phil starts to accept defeat and with it, a sense of entrapment and loss of will to live.  It is only when he starts using his power for good that things start to change.

MacDowell, then at the height of her beauty, is the perfect object of desire (to encourage which Ramis gives us lot of to-camera close-ups) and although an unlikely romantic partner, Murray is equally well-cast as the dyspeptic weatherman and ordinary schlub who finds himself in a truly extraordinary situation. The the film loses its bite in the latter stages as Connors drops his sarcastic front and Ramis ladles on the cuteness like treacle but until then it deserves its "classic" status.




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