Time: 103 mins.
No matter what Bill Murray does, in my opinion, he's hysterical. Sometimes the material he chooses is not very good, but he always manages to make me laugh regardless of how bad the rest of the film is. When he finds the perfect fit, like GHOSTBUSTERS or STRIPES, the affect is sheer comic brilliance. GROUNDHOG DAY gives Murray not only the chance to be incredibly funny, but romantic as well. Harold Ramis, his occasional co-star, is fast-becoming one of my favorite comedy directors. It's obvious that the years they've spent together making movies have given them a shorthand that allows them to create wonderfully funny films. Murray is so good in this movie he actually makes Andie MacDowell entertaining.
The premise is simple: Murray plays Phil Connors, an obnoxious Philadelphia weatherman sent to Puxatawny, Pennsylvania to cover Groundhog Day for the fourth year in a row. He's incredibly displeased about this assignment and makes sure his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) knows it. He can't get out of this podunk little town fast enough. A major blizzard forces them to spend a second night in Puxatawny, much to his grave disappointment. Phil wakes up the next morning ready to blow out of town, only to discover that it's Groundhog Day...again. He's initially completely freaked out. He tries to change the outcome, but he always gets stranded unable to leave the town and wakes up "the next day" right where he started. He begins to despair, stops bathing, eats whatever he wants, begins smoking, tries to kill himself, because nothing matters. He just wakes up with a clean slate and has to live the same day over again.
His eventual salvation is that he knows exactly what's going to happen at every moment all over town. Though the town "resets" every day, he doesn't, allowing him to accumulate knowledge and talents he never had before. He uses this "gift" to gather information about Rita, that he then uses to woo her. He's able to learn from his mistakes, so everyday he makes her like him a little bit more until she can't resist him. Eventually, he lives the one "perfect" day, which releases him from his torment. He turns from being a bitter, self-absorbed, chauvanistic pig, into a fun, caring lovable guy. Though he's only spent "one day" in the town, he's the most popular man in the place. This film may have a somewhat corny lesson, but his road to learning it is beyond funny.
Much like SCROOGED, Murray is never better than when he plays a bitter bastard on the road to redemption. Nobody does angry and sarcastic quite like him. MacDowell actually holds her own as the somewhat confused Rita who finally can't help but fall in love with Phil. It can't have been easy to film the same scenes over and over again, but each time Murray and MacDowell give it the same energy and emotion as the last. You'd swear it was the same piece of film, except that the dialogue changes slightly and the outcome is always different. It's truly remarkable. The rest of the supporting cast is wonderful as well, making the townspeople funny and endearing. This is a comdey that touches your heart and your funny bone. It's a definite must-see.