A film review by David Bezanson
Copyright 2002 filmcritic.com
Brilliant, quirky, good-natured, and smart are just some of the adjectives that we film critics don't get to use often enough, but all of them apply to Groundhog Day. Director/screenwriter Harold Ramis, actor Bill Murray, and everyone else involved with this film have all been responsible for their share of dogs. But this quirky, good-natured comedy is as good as it can be. Too rarely does a clever screenplay come along to give good actors a chance.
Murray's TV weatherman is a burnout with a bad attitude, a small fish in a small market, who affects the egotism and cynicism of all members of the press but knows that he's second-rate. Then, in a bizarre plot turn, he is thrown into a time warp where he is forced to live the same day over and over until he gets it right -- and to learn to appreciate life's blessings in the process.
Ramis milks the odd premise for just the right number of jokes, and funny ones. Eventually, a romance becomes viable between Murray's reformed cynic and Andie MacDowell's reporter, who is initially repelled by his piggishness. (Since she meets him as if for the first time each day, she is unaware of his transformation.) Murray is more disciplined than usual but as funny as ever, and MacDowell's excellent performance is a pleasant surprise.
The ending could fit into almost any one of the hundreds of light-hearted comedies that got made during the 1990s. But it comes after enough plot twists and subtle comedic touches to satisfy anyone. As a result, Groundhog Day is probably the only light-hearted romantic comedy of the 1990s that I would be willing to see over and over.
RATING: ***** [HIGHEST RATING]
[* = lowest rating / ***** = highest rating]
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Harold Ramis
Producers: Trevor Albert, Harold Ramis
Writer: Danny Rubin, Harold Ramis
Starring: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brian Doyle-Murray
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