Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today.

It’s February 2nd, six o’clock in the morning. Weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) wakes up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He’s there to report for the stupid Groundhog Day festivities. On his way to the occasion, he is hounded by an annoying high school classmate. As he walks away from him, he accidentally submerges his foot in a puddle of slush. Ugh, not a good way to start the day. Now, he has to stand in front of the camera and pretend to be all interested about the ho-hum event. His producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and cameraman Larry (Chris Elliot) do not like Phil’s bored attitude and dub him as a prima donna. But geesh, look at what a waste of time the whole thing is. A groundhog supposedly predicts if there are six more winter weeks or an early spring. Come on! Is anyone really buying into this? Is this really news-worthy? What a waste of Phil’s talent. Can you really blame him if he wants to get the whole thing over with? But no, his luck seems to get worse. An unpredictable blizzard approaches and Phil has to extend his stay in snoozetown. What a bad day. Hey, at least, it couldn’t get worse tomorrow.

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today.

It’s six in the morning. Phil wakes up in the same bed in Punxsutawney. He is hounded by a high school classmate and steps into a puddle of slush. Wait, hold on now. Where is everybody off to? Groundhog Day festivities? Wasn’t that yesterday? The rodent already prognosticated six more weeks of winter. Hello? Rita, Larry? Is this a joke?

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today.

No, no, no. Damn you, alarm clock radio. Why is it every time Phil wakes up, it’s always Groundhog Day? The same bad day is repeated once again. Right on cue, there’s Ned, the stalking classmate from the past. Foot on slush. Hey, Rita and Larry. Groundhog report. Yes, yes, blah blah, it’s six more weeks of winter. And you don’t say, a blizzard is coming?

Okay, campers…

Yeah yeah, rise and shine. I know, I know. That’s “Groundhog Day” for you. A man stuck in a day that blows, in a town he barely knows. It’s a simple premise and yet, the movie brilliantly milks it for all it is worth. The genius part is that the film offers no explanation as to why Phil is stuck in a 24-hour déjà vu. Because of this, the movie is free is to explore different directions, as Phil does about everything to get out of the trap he’s in. While the gimmick makes the plot stationary, as the chain-of-events get redundant, the film’s character’s arc story is always actively in motion.

This brings up the challenge that Bill Murray must take up. The actor must go through different takes of varying moods of the same scenes. And not once does he deliver a false note. It’s a finely-tuned performance from the popular comedian. Plus, no actor can pull off a buried sack of sarcasm as delightfully as he does. Whether his character is being bad or trying to be good, Bill Murray always makes him a hoot to watch.

In terms of story, “Groundhog Day” is surprising in many ways. It has mainstream appeal yet, at the same time, it has the soul of an artistic film. It’s both entertaining AND thought-provoking. It’s mind-boggling how the film succeeds brilliantly on both counts. I really got a kick out of Phil’s shenanigans. For example, he asks a lovely woman about where she went to high school, etc. The next same day, armed with information, he bumps into her, pretending to know her from high school. The woman is amazed and ka-ching, Phil scores a date. These are just one of the simple pleasures of the film and eventually, you start to wonder too as to how creatively you’ll go through the day if you’re in Phil Connors’ position. I confess I haven’t been able to able to get this movie out of my head. I’ve thought about it the day after I watched it, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that…

Grade: A+

Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, and Stephen Tobolowsky
Screenplay by
Danny Rubin
Harold Ramis
Directed by
Harold Ramis
Rated PG