Bill Murray headlines in one of my favourite comedies, Groundhog Day, which sees Murray as Phil Connors, a smarmy weatherman who thinks he’s better than his yearly assignment to head to Punxsutawney, for Phil the Groundhog’s yearly prediction on winter.
He’s joined by his new producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell), and cameraman, Larry (Chris Elliott). Following his broadcast, he’s eager to get out of town, but a blizzard keeps them snowed in, and when Phil wakes the next morning, it’s Groundhog Day… again.
Through countless iterations of the same day, Phil slowly grows, learns to become a better person, a giving person, and one involved in the world around him. But it’s gonna take him awhile. First he exploits the time loop, then he’s angry about it, resigned to it, and finally accepts that to move forward maybe he has to be a good person.
Through it all, he finds himself falling in love with Rita, and works to know her better, and actually understand her.
But remember, it’s Bill Murray, working with Harold Ramis, so there is so much laughter to be had through the film; the recurring scenes, which feature endlessly quotable dialogue, Murray’s impeccable comedic abilities, and the underlying sense of joy and love that seems to permeate it.
You know going in that the film is going to have a happy ending, but it’s the journey, and the characters themselves that draw you in. You know Phil’s a tool at the beginning of the film, but through Murray’s performance you can see his growth as he’s stuck repeating moment after moment, facing the inevitable, changing and helping where he can, and embracing life.
This film has been in my rotation since my video store days, and I remember throwing it on in the background as I worked with friends, and we would just deliver dialogue in-time with the movie. So now, it’s more than just a film for me, this is a memory, and filled with nostalgia. So sure, I don’t know Bill Murray, but because of this film, and the interactions it created for me and mine, he feels like he’s in my circle of friends.
I love that the time loop is never explained, but that as Phil becomes a better person, that allows him to move forward, and that’s a great message, especially when we find ourselves in a time when people’s selfishness seems to preclude any attempt of them thinking of anyone but themselves.
Man, I love this movie!
Phil? Phil Connors? (and who doesn’t love when Stephen Tobolowsky shows up in anything?)