Groundhog Day was kismet. We decided to watch it because it is coming up. We watched it right when we decided we would be doing this thing – randomly flipping through the book as the film was on the television, boom, the film is on the list! It was wonderful revisiting this flick, and we had some great conversations as we watched.
This is a classic film that the Schneider book argues the “best comedy of the 90s,” as a result of its “terrific conceit (one that is never explained, which makes it even better).” It is a clever movie that both of us admit to not having seen since the 90s, and it is a fun, reflective 90s movie that seemed to be the origin of the cliche-formula that followed so many times for the next thirty years.
Personally, I love Groundhog Day! This year marks the 130th year Groundhog Day has been celebrated in the United States. Phil the Woodchuck has an accuracy rate of 16%, but the tradition of watching animals coming out of hibernation dates back to our European ancestors; they would watch for animals waking up to know when to plant the spring crops. Anyways, I had a vague memory of seeing this movie a million times growing up. Watching it again for the first time in a long, long, time, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Bill Murray’s performance was excellent, and the pacing and writing of the movie were engaging. Absolutely worth the time to watch and enjoy again.
I loved this movie when it came out… and then I watched it over and over and over, and then it was on television over and over and over. It was a seemingly endless run that one could pick up at any point and enjoy, until it got too old because you knew exactly came next… Of course… You’d still watch it. Even though it was broadcast and you had the VHS in the closet ten feet from where you were sitting with no commercials.
Then a bunch of other screenwriters and Robert McKee students started doing the same thing, and then the device of the perfectly timed, repeated comedic structure was born. Now we can hardly watch a film without it, and those that don’t follow the formula seem to stand out.
This time watching it, however, I got a lot out of it. It had been at least ten years since I saw it last. It was a lot of fun to watch as an adult without the washed-out rehashing again and again of seeing it for the hundredth time. I have to say, still a pleasing and brilliant little film. It was truly like reliving a little slice of my adolescent awe at the film after not seeing it for many years. Murray was literally perfect (and it was interesting to learn that he hated it and fought with Ramis the whole time, only patching their broken relationship just before his death), and his ability to play the same role again, and again, with such ferocity, fresh humor, and excellent timing is a testament to his talent. Toblowski and Eliott were similarly difficult to match in this film.