Movie Review – Groundhog Day (1993)

Dear blog reader: I have a confession to make. In fact, I’m willing to bet I’ll be confessing on behalf of 99% of all bloggers out there.

You are my psychiatrist.

Everybody needs someone to talk to. Everybody needs to know they’re not alone. So when we experience great things, whether they make us laugh or cry, whether they touch our soul or ignite our fury, we gotta write about in the hopes that someone will read it and say: “Hey, you’re not alone. I feel and think that way too.”

So where am I going with this? Well, I’ve had an experience, because I just watched Groundhog Day for the first time, and I laughed, and I cried, and now I want to tell you all about this movie, because I love you, dear reader, and I’m loving life right now! Yahoo! Let’s dive in.

Theory: This movie is actually taking place inside the matrix…

The Good

The best part about this movie is the unique story and how well it’s executed. Sure, it might not sound novel that a guy wakes up experiencing the same day over and over, but this movie came out in 1993, and although there have been imitators, I haven’t seen anything that tells this kind of story half as well.

The point of forcing the guy to go through the same day over and over again is to make him appreciate life, but before that happens, the movie explores all the possible consequences of the experience. First, Phil (Bill Murray) takes advantage of the situation and sleeps with various women. He gets to know them and what kind of men they like, so that when he wakes up the next (same) morning, he’ll be ready, but eventually he gets tired of it. Next, the despair settles in, and I didn’t expect a light-hearted comedy to become as morbid as this film did, but Phil then attempts to stop the cycle by killing himself in various ways. But this doesn’t stop the time-trap, and Phil continues to wake up on the same day at 6:00am.

That is what makes this movie so good: it explores its own world and is sensible and realistic about it. By wondering and showing what a person would really do if they were stuck in this situation, the film retains immersion, and that is why the emotional scenes hit us even harder: we believe in this world and its rules. More on this later.

Speaking from a cinematic studies point of view, the presentation of the story deserves high praise. There’s a sequence where we see Phil waking up on different (same) mornings and getting increasingly violent towards the alarm clock. This might sound weird, but I really appreciated and liked this scene, because storytellers have such a limited amount of space (whether its pages or screen time) to tell their story, and to get a feeling or emotion across to the audience. We can see in this short sequence of less than ten seconds how shitty Phil’s situation is and the effect it’s having on his mind. No time wasted showing his frustration or trying too hard to get the audience to feel sorry for him; we get it immediately when he smashes the alarm clock on the ground and the chip is still playing the same radio broadcast he’s heard again and again, but in a creepy, garbled voice. He’s stuck. He can’t get out. It’s horrifying. It’s beautiful.

Perhaps the creepiest set of numbers in pop culture history, right after “1984”.

The Bad

There is nothing bad about this film. It’s perfect.

Okay, okay. To be fair, I’ll nitpick.

If I had one criticism it’d be that the movie is spoiled by Bill Murray’s presence, but this is only in retrospect. Sort of.

Bill Murray plays, yet again, the same cynical and sarcastic jerk-off who becomes the nicest guy at the end, and I saw it coming the moment he spoke his first lines. Being typecast is never the actor’s fault, of course, but the viewing experience was spoiled ever so slightly by Bill Murray being the same Bill Murray in other movies.

But that’s okay, because this movie is fantastic.

The Fantastic

Like I said, I had never seen this movie before. On my first viewing, it has catapulted itself into my top five movie list of all time.

The primary reason is that this movie changed me. So corny, I know, but bear with me.

I don’t mean that in the “Scrooge-on-Christmas-Day” kind of way. What I mean is that it reminded me of something that I once knew, that I should’ve remembered, and the film has reinvigorated that belief, the belief being, of course, that every day is valuable, and that we should try to be the best kind of person we can be.

Now, how many books or movies that you’ve experienced are as ambitious as that? Yeah, saving the world from destruction is important, but we don’t have superpowers. What we can do is control who we are, and how we act towards others. and this film effectively tells us why. Life is precious. You can be the difference between a good day and a bad day.

Not a whole lot of movies try to teach important and valuable lessons. Most of them are made with only profit in mind. Thus, when I realized what Groundhog Day was trying to say, and that they were doing a pretty damned fine job saying it (convincingly, and being simultaneously entertaining about it), it became one of my favourite movies ever.

In Conclusion…

I played myself by not watching this movie sooner, so if you haven’t watched this yet, quit playing yourself and watch it! It’s best to just go on in and wait, and watching everything unfold before your eyes, like a rising sun in the middle of the ocean. I consider this movie to be a masterpiece, because (and I never thought I’d be saying this) it made me bawl my eyes out by showing Bill Murray treating a homeless person to breakfast. That’s a powerful movie right there.

This has been a gamobo review. Thanks for reading.


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