Going the whole hog for laughs

Rarely does a film’s title make it into the English language, but ‘Groundhog Day’ has managed to become a universally recognised reference.

Director/co-writer Harold Ramis, who sadly died recently, will, if for no other reason, be remembered for that. But the film itself was one of the top movies of the ‘90s and is still as fresh as it was then.

Egocentric Pittsburgh weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray), along with producer Rita (Andie MadDowell) and cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott) is sent to Punxsutawney in rural Pennsylvania to cover the annual Groundhog Day event. A quaint ceremony to establish whether or not it’ll be a long winter, Phil hates the festivities and the town, grudgingly filming his reports with the intetion of leaving as soon as possible. While on the trip home, however, a snowstorm forces the crew’s return to Punxsutawney for another night.

The next morning, things start to happen in exactly the same way as the day before, although no-one but Phil is aware of the time loop. And then same things happen the next day, and then the next.

Realising he’s going nowhere Phil decides to have some fun; he seduces women, steals money, drives recklessly, and gets thrown in jail. However, his repeated attempts to get closer to Rita, to whom he has become attracted, always fall flat on their face. Despair eventually takes over and he comes up with more drastic ways of possibly ending the time loop. When they also fail, he becomes more accepting of his situation and begins to examine his own priorities and motives and take stock of his life.

It’s sharp, slightly macabre in places and extremely funny - perfect for Bill Murray’s laconic style - while Andie MacDowell’s pre ‘Four Weddings’ career received a considerable leg up due to her performance. One warning though - if you were a fan of Sonny and Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’ before viewing, you probably won’t be afterwards.