Groundhog is one of my favorite comedies from the 1990s as well as all time. Because the movie which obviously is not believable that a basically normal even narcissistic man like Phil Connors ( played by Bill Murray ) could literally live the same exact day over and over with only Phil making any changes for how his day goes, unless he’s literally dreaming and just having the Hollywood dream of a lifetime. The movie is only about 1:45 minutes give or take, so why couldn’t a man be sleeping have this dream going on his head while he’s asleep.
The movie starts off with Phil who is a selfish unhappy narcissistic weatherman for a local TV station in Pittsburgh, which is a midsize city in a small market, with hopes of landing a job for a big station in a big market like New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, wherever it might be. But instead of getting a job like that he gets another assignment from his Pittsburgh station to cover another small-town event in rural Pennsylvania small-town Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Doing exactly what he doesn’t want to do which is to cover small-town events with small-town people with Pittsburgh perhaps being the biggest city they’ve ever seen in their lives.
And narcissistic Phil sees himself as much bigger than that is unhappy and cynical the whole time he’s there, until he realizes he’s living the same day over and over again. Groundhog Day which is a one day event for everyone else in this town becomes a daily event for him. With no one else realizing what’s going on with him. Because everything else is normal for them. But in Phil’s case the same day starts over and over again every time he goes to sleep and wakes up in his hotel room.
Groundhog Day for me is the opportunity for one guy to live the same day over and over and learn from those experience and try not to make the same mistakes. Phil becomes a less sarcastic, cynical, narcissistic, selfish man as the movie moves along. Once he realizes he’s in the same day over and over with no tomorrows. He also becomes adventurous knowing that there’s basically no consequences for anything that he does. He can literally do whatever the hell he wants because he knows he’ll start the same day over and over once midnight comes.
There’s a scene in the diner where he drinks an entire pot of coffee and eats all of the pastries in the diner while he’s smoking. He robs an armor truck. He jumps off a building. He drives a truck over a cliff intentionally. He drives a car on the train tracks and gets into a police chase and spends a night in jail. Of course, only one night because the same day just starts over for him once midnight comes. He also starts to get involved with his producer Rita ( played by the adorable Andie McDowell ) who doesn’t like him and sees him as an egocentric selfish jerk. And spends each Groundhog Day learning about her and what she likes and is interested in and changes his behavior and interests just to get her to like him.
I prefer movies that are realistic, with great actors, great plot, cover original great writing, with clever wit with a cast that is also witty but can act as well. Groundhog Day has all of that except for the realism. Unless again we’re talking about one man with a really strange dream while he’s asleep that no one else could possibly know about. Groundhog Day is that 100 minute escape from reality when people simply just need an entertaining break and time to escape and is a very entertaining and very funny movie.