I’ve always admired “Groundhog Day,” but each time I revisit it, I find more to like about the movie. Maybe that’s appropriate. When the BluRay showed up last week, I put it on the “next to be watched” stack, looking forward to it. The transfer is bright and crisp and really shows off John Bailey’s cinematography, but “Groundhog Day” is never going to be one of those films people buy to demo a high-def system.
No, this is a film for people who demand a little more from mainstream comedy, a high point for all involved. I know Bill Murray’s had an interesting run over the last decade or so as people finally caught on to the idea that he’s more than just a comedian, but as much as I like “Lost In Translation” or “Rushmore” or “Broken Flowers,” I’d argue that this movie represents some of the very best work he’s done on film. He’s perfect as Phil Connors, the Sisyphean hero of this twisted parable about making the most of one’s life. He manages to make it funny and sad and moving and absurd, and he sells every beat of the film as believable. So many high concept comedies struggle just to get their premise of the ground, while “Groundhog Day” never bothers to explain how or why the time loop is happening to Phil; it just is. I love that there’s no angel or magical remote control or some other contrived bullshit designed to hold your hand as you watch. You experience things the same way Phil does, and you discover things as he does. It’s a very simple script in some ways… very direct. Danny Rubin, with Harold Ramis batting clean-up, created a perfect vehicle to explore the way we evolve as individuals, but in a non-pretentious and fun manner. I think it’s sort of amazing how “Groundhog Day” works as a simple comedy, but also as serious philosophical exploration of what it is we do with our lives, and how we piss away rivers of time instead of holding each moment precious.
There are many people writing about this film online today for obvious reasons, and Ali Arikan’s take over at The House Next Door is a particularly rich read. Personally, I’m just glad SPHE put out such a solid BluRay edition. Now if they could get Bill and Harold to record a commentary together to talk about how this film pretty much destroyed their professional and personal relationships… THAT would be the anniversary edition everyone would pony up for. In its stead, this one will do.