johnlink ranks GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)

I decided to start off 2012 with a movie I know I love, but which I have not seen in way too long. One of Bill Murray’s few romantic comedies, this is an Egon directed delight which is one of those movies which nobody really talks about, but everyone loves. Happy 2012, let’s get to it!

I watched GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) on 1.2.12. It was my fourth viewing of the film, but first in probably a decade.

Watching with a critical eye, it is easy to see how fragile a movie like this is. It takes a delicate balance of humor, pathos, lightness, and romance. With another actor, the role of Phil Connors might have been too mean-spirited at the outset to redeem, or too insincere for an audience to care. Under a different director, the film might have focused on the wrong parts of Phil’s story, or been tempted to explain more of why things work, rather than just letting them happen as Harold Ramis does. A different editor might have made the pacing too slow, so that the jumps from day to day weren’t allowed to flow so smoothly.

Heck, as I started this film tonight I was trying to figure out why Andie MacDowell got so much work in the early 90s as a romantic lead. By two-thirds of the way through, I remembered just how cute and effective she could be as a foil to a slightly off-kilter male lead.

While certainly not a perfect film, this is one which gets so much endearingly right that the result feels stronger than the sum of its parts.

The story of a selfish man, reliving the same day over and over until he gets it right seems like a high concept, heart-free laugher. But Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell play key romantic scenes with genuine seriousness. Murray’s Phil goes from a retched egomanical jerk to someone an audience really wants to see succeed.  Perhaps a couple of those jumps are too easy as written in the script, but Murray and Ramis still make the character earn what he gets. The beats of depression and suicide are necessary catharsis for a character who was too wrapped up in his perfection to ever be sad.

I like to think that the bartender in this is the God who sees it all develop and knows what happens in each of Phil’s days. Ramis gives this speechless character at least three knowing smiles, which the bartender in myself imputes a deity onto. I’m sure I’m wrong, but it doesn’t matter. The film doesn’t give us a ‘why’ or a ‘how’, so we get to come up with our own.

BRUCE ALMIGHTY was often too caught up in its own rules to be as good as GROUNDHOG DAY. The intelligence, patience, and care with which this film was made makes it one of my favorite comedies, even though it is neither the funniest or most entertaining comedy out there.

SCORES

FILM: 6; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 7; WRITING: 8; BONUS: 1

I love the film score in this movie. It is old-timey orchestral fun. I love how the instruments express the tone of each scene perfectly. Not an epic rousing score, like most of the scores which earn bonus points, but rather a note perfect score for a light comedy.

6+8+7+8+1=30

FINAL SCORE: 7.5

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~ by johnlink00 on January 2, 2012.

One Response to “johnlink ranks GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)”

  1. […] Via: John Link Movies […]

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