Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fantasy #8 - Groundhog Day (1993)

Groundhog Day ended up being a much darker movie than I thought it was. I was, of course, familiar with the general plot, which has been blessed upon sitcoms ever since, but I had never seen the whole thing, just bits and pieces. I thought it was a much lighter comedy, like Ghostbusters. It is not like Ghostbusters. Groundhog Day has all kinds of suicides and existential questions and messages about how people hate you and sometimes homeless people just die and there's nothing you can do about it. It's a pretty intense movie experience.

So Groundhog Day is about Phil Connor (He's Bill Murray, in case you don't know), who is a jerk and a journalist who's reporting on Groundhog Day. One day he wakes up and it's still Groundhog Day. And then the next day is still Groundhog Day, and the next, and so on. I'm sure you're familiar with the concept. Usually I'm not a fan of these sort of plots because they tend to be, you know, repetitive, but this movie doesn't have this problem - it doesn't make the mistake of showing you the same footage over, and over and over again, thank heavens. It really explores all of the possibilities of living the same day over, which I haven't seen anyone do as well since.

Groundhog Day really does have a lot of pretty deep themes - It's about living each day like it's a lifetime (Subtle, right?), redemption and how people can change and grow and what's really living and I feel like there might be a theme about arrogance somewhere in there, and how much you can control - There's many layers of this film, many messages. Groundhog Day reminds of A Christmas Carrol - Divine (?) intervention causes a lonely caustic mean person to redeem them self. See - parallels. It also kind of reminds me of The Birds, if only because the main fantasy plot device is never explained at all, mostly because it's not important.

Now, as I'm writing this post, it becomes more and more obvious to me that I love this movie. I love how deadpan Bill Murray is, I love all of the bit characters, I love how the movie takes advantage of the humor you can get from repeating things, and I love that the day is Groundhog Day, the silliest holiday in existense. I found out that Woodstock, Illinois, the town where this movie was filmed, has little plaques in different places from the movie, like the place where Bill steps into the puddle, and now I want to go there. It's only six hours away. I think it's worth it.

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