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Groundhog Day occurs every February 2nd and legend has it that if a groundhog comes out of its burrow and fails to see its shadow, Spring begins. If it sees its own shadow, it will retreat and signal six more weeks of winter. Phil Connors (Bill Murray), a weatherman from Pittsburgh, has reported on this event live from Punxsutawney for the past three years and this year isn’t any different. Assigned with him is Rita (Andie MacDowell), a producer who Connors has some feelings for.
After his report Connors orders his team out of Punxsutawney but a blizzard he predicted would pass them by has forced the roads to close. Phil returns to the hotel with hopes of leaving in the morning, although when he wakes it, it’s Groundhog Day again, and again, and again. At first, the arrogant depressive Connors sees how much he can get away with, robbing banks, getting drunk and even killing himself but he will always wake up again and repeat the day.
This goes on and on, presumably for years. Eventually Connors finds out a lot about the Punxsutawney community and teaches himself French poetry and the piano. He turns his attentions to getting to know Rita but continually seems to fall short of winning her affections. Connors turns from grumpy weatherman into well cultured and affectionate, with the hope that tomorrow will eventually come.
This is one of Harold Ramis most successful films, although never a real blockbuster during its 1993 release it has thrived on repeat viewings on TV and DVD. It has won many accolades including being listed as Total Film magazines best film of 1993, beating out competition from Schindler’s List, The Piano and The Fugitive. It’s success has to be mainly thanks to Bill Murray whose has the ability to make you laugh and cry in the blink of an eye. Stephen Tobolosky has been quoted as saying that Murray is such a great actor, “he can get a laugh from blowing”, referring to the opening scenes as Phil Connors blows away the blizzard on the weather map.
The film isn’t going to blow you away with action or special effects, but the performance from Murray and witnessing his shift, his change in attitude as he struggles to deal with being forever stuck in a never ending loop really draws you in to the drama. You learn with Connors as you follow his fall into hopelessness and his ascension to better himself and help the others in the community. It’s a cliche considering the very nature of the film but this is one that has stood the test of time and doesn’t tire on repeat viewings. A real classic.