Top positive review
Still as good today as it will be today. And today…
on 10 September 2017
If you’ve somehow found yourself watching the 2016 version of ‘Ghostbusters’ you may or may not have noticed some bloke popping up in the middle of the film, only to disappear as quickly. I barely spotted him. In fact, it took me until practically the end of the movie to realise it was Bill Murray, now reduced to a cameo in the film that – arguably – made him a household name. Whatever you think about the ‘Ghostbusters’ remake, after the original he was riding high and one of his follow-up roles (and possibly ‘best’) was as Phil Conners in ‘Groundhog Day.’ If you haven’t watched it then, by now, you’ve probably seen a film that’s – technically – based on it. The formula is a simple, if pretty basic one: a man is literally trapped in a day. No matter what he does, where he goes or who he meets, he simply wakes up the following morning in today. Since ‘Groundhog Day’ I’ve watched this format played out in all sorts of other films or TV programmes – everything from the ‘X-files’ did it, to variants of the genre such as incorporating horror and sci-fi to the mix. However, no matter how fun they were, none have really come close to watching a grown man kidnap a small rodent and take it for a joy ride through a quarry pit in small-town America.
Bill Murray plays a weatherman who hates his assignment covering a – in his mind- low-brown and pointless celebration in a small American town which has a tradition involving a groundhog (also called ‘Phil!’) supposedly predicting the weather for the next few months. Murray’s done it for years and is totally sick of it, however, when the day ends, a freak snowstrom strands him not just in the town, but also in the day. What follows is quite an accurate account of what might occur should this happen. At first you have confusion and disbelief, followed by the freedom to know everything that’s going to happen in the future (or at least for the next twenty-four hours) and finally depression at the realisation that you’re never going to live any other life that what’s on offer for this day.
Rumour has it that Murray disagreed with the film-makers as to what sort of film this should be. He wanted it as a deep and emotional study of the human condition when presented with such a situation, whereas the director wanted more of a fluffy family (romantic) comedy. From what I can tell both parties seemed to get their way. Yes, this film could be classed as ‘fun for all the family.’ There’s something for everyone to enjoy. It’s great fun without ever getting too dark to be difficult to explain to younger viewers. However, it does also grant Murray his wish to a degree as, despite its absurd premise, you could argue that it plays out almost exactly how it would if a human was faced with this ‘capture in time.’
I watched ‘Groundhog Day’ when it first came out in the cinema and I’m pleased to say that it’s as good today as it ever was. There are plenty of good supporting cast members, my favourite was Murray’s long-suffering camera man, but this is Murray’s baby. The film sits firmly on his shoulders and he carries it perfectly. Enjoy its numerous imitations, but this will always be the original and best. If only the same could be said about the 2016 ‘Ghostbusters!’ (meow!)