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Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the 1993 Masterpiece “Groundhog Day”

February 2, 2013

By John C.

Groundhog Day PosterEvery year, I mark February 2nd by watching Groundhog Day, director Harold Ramis’ 1993 masterpiece.  The intriguing and intelligent character study is now celebrating its twentieth anniversary, a milestone that deserves to be recognized with yet another viewing of the film.  This is a high concept classic with shades of A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is a TV weatherman who is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania with his charming producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott) to provide coverage of the annual February 2nd activities.  Phil wakes up in his hotel room at 6:00 AM, to the sound of Sonny & Cher singing “I Got You Babe” on the radio, and grumbles his way through the day before a freak snowstorm prevents him from going home at the end of the night.

The next day, the exact same thing happens again, and Phil becomes stuck in a rut of having to live February 2nd over and over again.  What at first is a curse filled with suicide attempts and depressive abandon, becomes a blessing as he changes the lives of those around him and starts falling in love with Rita, having years of living through the same day to finally get it right.  As Phil learns to change himself for the better and accept that some things will tragically always stay the same, Groundhog Day becomes a deeply felt allegory about letting go and moving on to the next day.  The film beautifully captures the feeling of being stuck in the same moment, with Bill Murray’s stunning performances taking us through every emotion of this time trip.

Just like how February 2nd keeps repeating itself at the heart of the story, Groundhog Day is the sort of film that I can watch over and over again, each time seeing something new and taking away an even deeper appreciation for the experience.  Both hilarious and deeply moving, with a script by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis that allows for moments of profound understanding, this is a true masterpiece filled with memorable moments that holds up beautifully every time I watch it.

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