Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Movie Review: Groundhog Day

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Lots of great laughs from a strange premise
Cons: Some things get stretch too far or are too dark
The Bottom Line:
Some dark comedy
But lots of genuine laughs
Yes, it's a classic

"Do You Ever Have Deja Vu?"  "I Can Check with the Kitchen."

Groundhog Day is one of those classic comedies you always hear about. And yet, I hadn't managed to see it until recently. As I had heard, it is funny and has a great message.

Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is a self-absorbed weatherman in Pittsburg who is obsessed with moving to a larger market. As part of his job, he goes every year to Punxsutawney to cover the groundhog festivities on February 2nd. This year, he is going with his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and camera guy Larry (Chris Elliot). He can't wait to get home, but a blinding snowstorm makes it impossible for them to leave.

The next morning, Phil wakes up to discover that it isn't the next morning. And no matter what he does, every morning he wakes up to find it is February 2nd. Slowly, he begins to learn from his mistakes and do thing differently. But will he ever get out of this repetitive repetition?

The movie gets off to a great start. We're introduced to our main characters and the initial run at the day is shown. It's enough to set up the rest of the movie without slowing us down at all.

And once we hit February 2nd the 2nd, the comedy really kicks in. Bill Murray is perfectly funny as Phil, capturing his frustration in every movement and facial expression. Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliot are equally funny as the two sidekicks constantly confused by Phil's antics. And the scenes that show us one day followed immediately by Phil's attempt at the same thing the next day are genius. They almost feel like multiple outtakes in a blooper reel.

The message of the film is fairly obvious to anyone watching, but isn't so obvious it ruins the film. And, honestly, it is always good to be reminded to genuinely care for those around you.

Unfortunately, the movie isn't quite what it could be. While I loved some of those multiple take scenes, a few got repetitive and over the top. I was quite relieved to see Phil finally get those situations right because I was more than ready to move on by the time he did.

Even worse, there are some very dark scenes as Phil attempts to get out of this nightmare any way he can. I think they were going for black comedy, but I didn't find them funny. Again, when they moved on to something different, I was very thankful.

Neither of these issues were major in the grand scheme of things. If you are looking for a funny comedy, Groundhog Day will fit the bill. Heck, you might even find yourself watching it over and over and over and over again.

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