When a weatherman is assigned to cover the story about the notorious groundhog for the fourth year in a row, upon awakening the next day, he discovers its somehow managed to be Groundhog Day once again, and again, and again, and again, ad nauseam. Needless to say, when the novelty of groundhog-day-infinitude begins to wear off, our poor weatherman begins to try his best to evade his doomed time-locked status.
“Groundhog Day” is a delightful comedy fantasy fable from director Harold Ramis.
The cast includes: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliot, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brian Doyle-Murray, Mariata Geraghty, Angela Paton, Rick Ducommun, Rick Overton, and Robin Duke.
Tagline: He’s having a day in his life…over and over again.
The basic story involves an obnoxious, sarcastic TV weather reporter, Phil Conners (Bill Murray) who is annoying to everyone he has to work with in Pittsburgh or anywhere he is sent to cover events. After covering the annual Ground Hog Day ceremonies in Punxsutawney, PA, on Feb. 2nd (which he absolutely hates to do), Conners goes to sleep and wakes up the next morning, only to find it’s still Groundhog Day, Feb. 2nd. This happens over and over again, until he changes his bad attitude and takes his focus away from self-absorption to others. He discovers that the real change that matters is what he can change about himself from within, thus changing his future.
This clever, entertaining screenplay was written by Danny Rubin, and directed by the multi-talented Harold Ramis, who is as talented behind the camera as he is in front of the camera.
Murray gives his best performance in years. His character goes through a great character arc, from jerk to considerate nice guy, with total believability. He skillfully shows the transformation of his character as he goes through life-changing incidents.
Andie MacDowell gives a winning performance as Murray’s TV producer and love interest, Rita. She is pretty, charming and a tough cookie. It’s fun to watch her various responses, day after day, to Murray’s numerous romantic come-ons, and how her feelings change toward Murray, as his outlook on life changes. Instead of trying to manipulate her feelings, he lures her in because of the kind of person he becomes in the process of his inner self-growth.
The amazing thing about “Groundhog Day” is that it never gets boring, despite the fact that we see numerous stagings of the same, or very similar events. It is a testimony to the cleverness of the script, by Danny Ruben, as well as the resourcefulness of director Ramis and his able cast, that potentially boring material is made fresh, funny, and ultimately thought provoking.
Chris Elliot (“Saturday Night Live”) has fun with the role of cameraman in Murray’s TV production crew (Actor and Emmy-award winning writer) plays things a bit less silly than usual, but funny nonetheless.
Character actor Stephen Tobolowsky is great as the annoying life/ health insurance salesman, “Needle-Nose” Ned Ryerson, a nerdy, persistent guy who bumps into Phil every morning before his Ground Hog Day gig. Ned used to date Phil’s sister back in their hometown.