Groundhog Day - 20th Anniversary

By Steven D’Arcangelo      

Believe it or not, it’s been two decades since the release of 1993’s Groundhog Day, one of my top three favorite Bill Murray comedies of all time (Ghostbusters and the underrated Quick Change being the other two). I sure don’t believe it. I feel like egocentric weatherman Phil Connors himself, wondering where all the time went.

Actually, that’s the exact opposite of Phil’s plight, who — instead of advancing through time at a rapid pace — is cursed to repeat the same day over and over and over again.

Actually, that’s the exact opposite of Phil’s plight, who — instead of advancing through time at a rapid pace — is cursed to repeat the same day over and over until he changes his ways.  

Actually, that’s the exact opposite of Phil’s plight, who — instead of advancing through time at a rapid pace — is cursed to repeat the same day until he changes his ways and becomes a better person.    

And we’re better people for it. What other film makes you laugh one minute (“I’m a God, not the God.”), ponder one’s place in the universe the next (Phil trying in vain to save the homeless man), and by the end feel genuine love for humanity (Phil’s ice sculpture of Andie McDowell and sincere relationship with the townspeople)? If Frank Capra were alive in ‘93, he would’ve made this movie.

Groundhog Day is available on DVD and now Blu-ray, where my only complaints of the film surface:

  1. My 7-month-old nephew can Photoshop better cover art than this. Hey, Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment, do you really expect us to believe those are Murray’s hands trapped in that clock? Ain’t happening.
  2. Don’t bother listening to the director’s commentary. Harold Ramis may have made one of the funniest films of all time, but you wouldn’t know it from his monotone trivia-lite commentary. Paraphrased soundbytes include, “The day we shot this scene was cold” and, “This day was cold too.” And then there’s this gem, “We froze the entire shoot.” Spielberg never records commentaries for his films. Ramis should do likewise.    

I’m sure some TV channel out there must be running Groundhog Day in a 24-hour marathon on February 2nd. If not, one should. The continuous loop viewing is much more appropriate for this film than A Christmas Story. Not that I have anything against Ralphie and his Red Ryder quest, but the quest for one’s humanity while enjoying a belly laugh is an incredible combination that continues to affect audiences 20 years later.

Happy Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil. Happy anniversary, Phil Connors. I’m happy to repeat six more weeks of winter with you around. Especially when it’s only 70 degrees in LA. Brrrr.   

Steven D'Arcangelo is a transplanted Bostonian living in LA with his lovely transplanted wife Carrie. When not reviewing films, he writes screenplays. When not writing screenplays, he does graphic design and illustration. When not doing graphic design and illustration, he denies being a workaholic. When not denying he's a... Well, you get the idea.