Friday, June 19, 2015

26: Groundhog Day

The funny thing about 'time loop' movies and TV shows is that in theory you need to watch it far fewer times to get an appreciation of whats going on, since so much repetition takes place in the single viewing you have. However the statistics show that Groundhog Day was only reasonably successful to good, if unremarkable, reviews on its initial release and yet over the years has been rewatched enough that it has risen to a mighty 96% 'fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

I saw it at the cinema when it came out in 1993, and liked it a lot. I liked it because I'd heard adverts on the radio for it so I knew what was coming in terms of the basic story setup. I liked it because I knew both Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell from previous films, and liked their work very much (Bill Murray in particular I thought was extremely funny). And I liked it because it was fresh, different, not like anything I'd seen before, and it was funny - understated and deadpan as Murray's best work is, but really really funny. And as a comedy fan (wait until we start talking about the top radio shows ever) that counts for a lot. Funny, even when he repeatedly commits suicide, which frankly is a very unfunny subject.

And the fact that you don't know quite how it's going to end - that counts for a lot also. If you think about it during the movie - and I'm not sure I did during my first viewing since I was so engrossed in the story and the performances - you could predict that there would be some kind of resolution, some kind of escape from the time loop - but like Murray's character, you really can't think what it would be. And while the final escape is arguably weak (seems like fate determined that he had to spend the day perfectly according to some Hollywood director's definition of perfection), it does give you a sense of completion.

But then you watch it again, and again, and again. And appreciate the subtleties more each time. And the humour. And the performances. And the story. It's just really good.

And, like Truman Show, like Cast Away, the question is: what would YOU do? And what's interesting is that it's the exact opposite of Cast Away in that sense - the problem is not can you find a way to survive and how do you deal with it, it's that you are essentially guaranteed to survive whatever you do, and how do you deal with that?

But mainly it's funny.

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