The second film in this very personal list of my All-Time Top 10 Films is the annoyingly brilliant ‘Groundhog Day‘.
The most annoying thing about this film is the casting of Andie MacDowell.
I dislike her.
Her face has magical powers, in that it makes the palm of my right hand itch whenever I see it.
I want to slap her.
Bill Murray, however, is the perfect foil – the most wonderful antibody – to combat Andie MacDowell’s faux goofiness and all-too-real sickliness.
Bill Murray makes this film; the gradual transformation of the character ‘Phil’ from a curmudgeonly, shallow, self-invested individual to a person who engages with every level of society, and who grows to show genuine compassion, where – before the change – he would have walked away, plays out against a series of almost slapstickesque scenes, and against some delightful dialogue.
It’s easy to miss the big picture and just enjoy the spectacle of the film.
I enjoy both aspects of Groundhog Day.
The irony that I could watch this, a film about the repeated hell of one person living the same day over and over again, on almost continuous repeat, is not lost on me.
Groundhog Day is more than a fantasy, it is also a clever commentary on aspects of life as most people live it:
Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?
Ralph: That about sums it up for me.
If you want to examine this film deeply, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface.
But you can always just relax and let the story flow over you.
And remember, next February 2nd it’ll be…
ps: Want to know where Harold Ramis got the idea for the script from? Go and read ‘The Gay Science’, by Friedrich Nietzsche.
pps: The original screenplay had Phil living his life on a loop as a result of a ‘This will teach him a lesson’ spell, cast by an ex-girlfriend (Stephanie). These details were dropped from the shooting script.
ppps: The original screenlay had Phil trapped in his Groundhog Day for over 150 years.
pppps: I know far too much about this film.