February 2nd is Groundhog Day, but don’t wait till then to see this delightful comedy that is another film on my favorites list. Bill Murray is Phil Connors, a TV weatherman in Pittsburgh assigned for yet another year to cover Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, PA (actually filmed at the quaint village square in Woodstock, Illinois, which is just over the border from Wisconsin northwest of Chicago). Accompanying Phil are the newly hired producer Rita (Andie MacDowell), and the cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott). They arrive the night before the event to get up bright and early to film the segment for the news. Phil is a man who is full of himself and not liked by many people. He is attracted to Rita, but has no clue how to romance her, much less even make her like him. Rita is all sweetness and light as expertly created by Andie MacDowell.
After the shoot, Phil can’t wait to get out of Punxsutawney, but a blizzard he didn’t predict keeps him in his bed and breakfast for another night. Mysteriously and magically, Phil awakens the following morning to February 2nd, not February 3rd. Phil is confused, and fails to make sense of this strange déjà vu like experience, but then it happens again the next day. And the next. And the next. And the next.
Bill Murray’s performance in Lost in Translation received a lot of press, and that is a flawed film which I can review some other time. However, Groundhog Day, released 11 years earlier, gave Bill Murray a much better role in which to express himself, and to show what a fine actor he really is. It is his best film role. He does a wonderful job of portraying Phil as he struggles to come to terms with whatever weird time warp he has stumbled into which causes him to always awaken on February 2nd there at the bed and breakfast in Punxsutawney. I have read some compare Bill’s performance to that of Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life, and I shamelessly admit that I prefer Groundhog Day. Sorry Jimmy.
Phil’s predicament is the beauty of the film which was flawlessly written by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis, and who should be credited with creating a classic screenplay for all time. When Phil realizes that tomorrow never arrives, he has big choices about how to spend his day. Will he indulge himself in the pursuit of pleasure, go crazy from the monotony and repetition, or make every day count in a unique and special way?
See for yourself. Harold Ramis directed this wonderful film, which is rated PG. I unconditionally recommend this movie. Not only will it make you laugh, it will have you looking at today in a whole new way.