Rise and Shine all you Wood Chuck Chuckers, its Groundhog Day! Every year, on February 2nd, barring any unforeseen events, I watch the movie named after this holiday. Recently I’ve started to consider this movie to be my all-time favorite, even beating out the obscure “Story of Mankind.” It’s one of the closest things to a perfect movie that exists in the world and evidently I’m not the only one who thinks so.
I’ve been noticing with a lot of movies recently, during the first time watching it, that I will be sitting there for a while wondering (okay, when is this movie going to get started, when is it going to get interesting, could I turn it off right now and not miss too much, etc.) not with this one. I’m a Nimbophile at heart, a cloud fanatic, so the opening credit sequence of timelaspe clouds is right up my ally, then the movie goes right into the semi-sarcastic and semi-hyperactive antics of Bill Murry. Plenty of great scenes and lines in the first twenty minutes to a half hour until the movie actually gets into its true nature.
An infinitely repeating day is a pretty unusual plot device. I’ve only seen it done one other time, in a Disney Christmas short with Hewy, Dewy and Lewy, reliving Christmas Day.
The role of Phil Connors is perhaps the most difficult role any actor has ever done. In order to maintain continuity, all the films sequences were shot at the same time, i.e. every time Phil talks to Needlenose Ned, every scene at Gobblers Knob, etc. needed to be shot at the same time, that way the clouds and weather would always look the same. Everything would have to look and act the same accept for Bill Murry, who would have to be queued (okay, now your super depressed, okay now your maniacal, etc.) and he would then have to slip into that character.
The first time I watched this movie, on TV, I was very young. It was probably on Groundhog Day in 1995, which would have made me 11 years old, and it’s pretty clear that this is not a kid’s movie, but I couldn’t stop watching it. It didn’t help much that I was already a big Ghostbusters fan and the characters of Phil Connors and Peter Peter Venkman are quite similar. My parents had some kind of a party downstairs, my bedtime back then was 9:00, and I think it was 10:30 when my mom realized I was still up watching the movie, and made me turn it off and go to sleep. It wasn’t until ten years later that I finally picked it up on DVD and saw the entire movie. Finding it even more profound this time. I’ve easily watched it a 50 times since then.
What else? I’ve picked up the movie on laserdisc as well, even though I don’t have a laserdisc player, but I saw it at a flee market for 2$ and couldn’t pass it up, it’s now hanging on the wall above two filled book shelves of DVD’s in my room. Last year I wrote a story about Groundhog Day, it’s about a fictional writer who claims to have written the novel that the movie is based off of and then also the original short story that the novel in turn was based on. I haven’t even tried to get it published because it is too much in the realm of “Fan Fiction,” though at a future date I may canabalize it into another story, though I tend not to write about writers, we’ll see what happens.
I could write much more about this movie and at a later point I might, and then I will post it next year for Groundhog Day, maybe. As for right now I’m going to sit down and watch the movie again, and I hope all you wood chuck chuckers join me.
Happy Groundhog Day.