Saturday, 18 February 2017

Retro Review: Groundhog Day (1993)

Groundhog Day
1993
Cast: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Harold Ramis, Chris Elliot
Genre: Fantasy Comedy
North American Box Office Gross: over $70 million

Plot: TV weatherman Phil Connors is forced to live the same February 2 over and over until he gains karma 




'Problematic Comedy That Should Have Been Way Funnier & With Repetition Of Scenes As Overkill'

Groundhog Day is a film that although it was tremendous success released way back in 1993 - a great year for movies in general - is also one I'd pass up on and one I've never seen when it came out at the time. Just because based on the trailer, it didn't enthuse me enough to take an interest. But over time, given the critical feedback Groundhog Day received, I knew that some time I had to sit through this one and thus, it became one of the films I had to watch. 

So how do I feel about Groundhog Day? It may be a Bill Murray comedy vehicle I've come to expect from him, but also, though the humour and comedy did hit the spot occasionally, it just wasn't the laugh-fest I'd wanted this to be and honestly, the first half just didn't make an impression on me. This film lost me, then it gained my interest, only to lose me again as Murray's Phil sways back and forth. 

Andie MacDowell as Rita is good here and after the success of Groundhog Day I'd expected her to be a huge star, but that never really happened for her, which is a shame. She and Bill Murray are adorable together and I liked their romantic scenes. The scene where Phil opens his heart to Rita as she sleeps was really sweet. The performances were really good, the script, however, needed better and consistent humour to go with it. 

Sitting through Groundhog Day, I wouldn't necessarily categorise it as a comedy but a light-hearted drama and the time loop thing where Phil relives the same day over and over, is utilised in a way that makes it repetitive and is regurgitated, it sort of offers different perspectives on the same situation/event. How many times does it take for a jerk to turn into a nice guy? How many times does it take for the guy to impress a girl and for the girl to take notice? 

Bill Murray's films are hardly ones that appeal to me the most; his droll humour and comedy aren't for me, though I did enjoy Ghostbusters

Groundhog Day has also been touted as a romantic comedy, and to some extent, this is through the Phil and Rita will-they won't-they plotline, even though it is not technically a rom-com. The idea has potential; but unfortunately and ultimately, the way it is conceived left me in a state of bemusement. Halfway through the film, as this plotline starts to flow properly, I eventually got tired of it and yes, I fully understand that the repetition is the whole point of this film. That the whole point is to show with every action comes a reaction, and that Phil is changing. But at the same time, that repetition comes at a cost and when it is not only overdone as it is, it's also done that makes it look boring and not very inviting. It's never even explained in the film why Phil relives February 2, over and over again and this formulaic premise, though more so how it is done, makes the rest of Groundhog Day a disappointment actually.

But of course, because this is a film and with a film, there is only so much you can show within the duration (here, being 1 hour 40 mins), but when you start showing the same things repetitively, it becomes a chore. That and the comedy here is just not to my taste. I like my comedy films to raise a chuckle or two, have a few laugh out loud scenes, something that really raises a smile from me. But here it is not accessible enough for general audiences. 

Groundhog Day needed to have more of the general humour. Yet, the last few scenes with Phil and Rita together were nice to see, but that is still not enough for me to want to revisit this film. 




Final Verdict

A film that almost everyone on the planet has lauded and seen but me; whilst the premise sounded intriguing on paper, that conception and execution of it just didn't blow me away and neither was it as funny as I'd expected it to be. But for the cute scenes between Bill Murray and Andie Macdowell, Groundhog Day just never made me want to love it as much as it wants me to. 

I'm pretty much in the minority, insofar as Groundhog Day is concerned; I wanted to love it, I really did. Instead, the feeling is one of disappointment. 

Rather than the genius comedy film it was lauded by many, this turns out to be a problematic one that ought to have been conceived in a way that is easily accessible by all. The humour wasn't accessible enough - and that, for me, is its biggest downfall. 

& the repeated scenes as Phil relives the same day becomes a novelty that wears off, by the time it passes the 1-hour mark. 

Groundhog Day is worth a try if you haven't seen it before, but the repetition theme acting as a plot device and the conception of it means it doesn't have a repeat viewing factor. & I'm afraid it's certainly not one on my 'must-have' movie list. 

I wouldn't say it is terrible - it's just not for me. 


Overall:








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