Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #159
Director: Harold Ramis
Starring: Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell
It's shocking to me that it took me until now to finally see Groundhog Day, considering the fact that there was a well-worn copy of the VHS tape in my house ever since it was released. It's one of my old man's favorite movies, and I always kind of associated it with being shitty for that reason – his other favorite movies, mind you, are Multiplicity and Fools Rush In. When I saw that it was on the IMDb Top 250, though, I figured he must have had a lapse of judgment and accidentally decided to like a good movie. Even so, the fact that a mid-'90s Bill Murray comedy, regardless of existential bent, made the IMDb Top 250 is rather jarring. Upon actually watching the movie, my skepticism was validated. If Groundhog Day has an all-time classic reputation, then it's highly overrated.
Unfortunately, Groundhog Day isn't a particularly impressive movie. The concept is novel: A cynical weatherman played impeccably by Bill Murray is forced to relive Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania every single day. He learns how to ice sculpt and play piano, he spends countless days trying to impress his producer (Andie MacDowell), he kills himself over and over again, he commits crimes, and he does generally anything he wants to do to kill time since he'll continue to come back the next morning, with Sonny and Cher's "I've Got You, Babe" playing on his clock radio at 6 a.m. The joy of this movie is watching all the things that Murray does once he realizes that he has to keep reliving Groundhog Day. Once you get past the initial horror of it, you can start to enjoy it, and he spends hundreds of Groundhog Days doing just that, and vicariously punching an obnoxious insurance salesman in the face and making a beautiful Andie MacDowell fall in love with you through Bill Murray is exhilirating enough.
But the film ends up being a one trick pony, and without the surface-level fantasy of it all, the message reveals itself as a muddled one, and the ending is unsatisfying. SPOILER ALERT, AND ALSO A QUESTION FOR MY COMMENTERS: So, like, he had to help every single person in Punxsutawney in one day so he could get to the next day? Is that even what happened? Isn't that arbitrary? And unnecessarily difficult? Didn't he just help all of those people so he could finally move on to the next day and get the girl, and if so, doesn't that make him just as selfish as he was all along? I need answers, people!
The Good: Murray has a lot of fun with the role and it's good for plenty of laughs.
The Bad: The ending is both horrendously rushed and deeply unsatisfying.
The Skinny: Not sure how it wound up so high on the list, but I don't think it should be on it at all.