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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Directed by Harold Ramis
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 01/93 DVD/VHS Feature Film
This romantic comedy stars Bill Murray as a repugnantly self-centered Pittsburgh TV weatherman who has a low regard for everyone else in the universe. Bored with his life, he heads up to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, as he does every year on February 2, to report on the Groundhog Day Festival.
To his astonishment, Phil finds himself trapped in a rerun of his most unfavorite day of the year. Over and over and over again, he wakes up at 6:00 am to the radio sound of Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe" and a series of encounters with his producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell), his cameraman (Chris Elliott), and an awkward insurance salesman (Stephen Tobolowsky) who knew him in high school.
Since there is no tomorrow and no consequences, Phil amuses himself with overeating, robbing an armored car, and seducing a local woman. He refines his lines in order to win the affections of Rita but she breaks free from him each time. Even his various suicide attempts come to nothing. Finally realizing that the one thing he can change is himself, Phil tries to become a new person.
Although Groundhog Day starts out as just another ho-hum Bill Murray comedy, the film soon switches gears and becomes a deft and innovative comic parable about love, identity, living in the moment, and destiny. Writer Danny Rubin and director Harold Ramis may not have intended the connection, but this film runs on the same thematic circuit as Defending Your Life. In an interesting twist on reincarnation, Phil keeps coming back to the same day until he gets it right.
The questions posed by Phil's predicament are deeply spiritual. What would it take for you to make an ordinary day into the best day of your life? If you were forced by some benevolent force in the universe to live one day over and over again, what day would it be? And if you were trying to convey your love to an outgoing, kind, and genuinely nice person, what behavioral modications would you need to make in your own character? This is thought-provoking movie. It is also very funny.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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A discussion guide by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat is available for this movie. See the Values & Visions Video Guide.