Groundhog Day

By Cunneen, Joseph | National Catholic Reporter, March 12, 1993 | Go to article overview

Groundhog Day


Cunneen, Joseph, National Catholic Reporter


"Groundhog Day" (Columbia) is my movie recommendation for Lent. No, it's no dull sermon, something you have to endure with a sour face, but a first-rate vehicle for Bill Murray to change from a smug, self-centered misanthrope to a lover of humanity in general and Andie MacDowell and Punxsutawney, Pa., in particular. No substitute for prayer and fasting, but a reminder that every day you get a new chance.

Murray plays Phil Connors, an obnoxious TV weatherman who thinks that he belongs on a major network and that having to go to Panxsutawney to cover the Groundhog Day Festival is a terrible trial. His witty cameraman (Chris Elliott) and Rita, his patient new producer (Andie MacDowell), try to coax him to abandon his cynicism and come to dinner with them, but he prefers to continue his stream of insults and preserve his isolation.

Fortunately for us, Phil doesn't get back to Pittsburgh after the festival: A blizzard he didn't predict forces him to return to the local bed-and-breakfast, and when the clock radio wakes him at six next morning, it's Feb. 2 again. His bed-and-breakfast proprietress repeats the well-intentioned greeting we'd heard before. A former classmate, now an insurance salesman, insists again on delaying Phil on his way to the festival, and in his rush to get away, Phil again steps into a huge puddle - and we laugh even more than we did the first time.

Many of the gags that grow out of "Groundhog Day's" time-trickery may be adolescent - when Phil realizes that his actions will have no consequences, he pigs out on high-cholesterol food and drives a car on the railroad tracks into the path of an oncoming train. But director Harold Ramis keeps everything moving, and "Groundhog Day" gets better as it goes.

Murray is genuinely funny when he's being outrageously antisocial, but a remains believable when he begins to realize he's being given a chance to change and is tired enough of the eternal return to want to change.

As things get more serious, the fun builds, too. Drawing on what he's learned about Rita from his many earlier (canceled out) Groundhog Days - e.g., she majored in 19th-century French poetry - Phil almost convinces her that he's a perfect soul mate until his residual self-centeredness makes her realize he's just feeding her a new line. Suddenly, he's getting slapped - as the antisocial person must be in comedy - and will continue to be generally humiliated until he gets it right.

Having enjoyed the way Murray earlier delivered insults, I was impressed at how convincingly he became a good guy, though Andie MacDowell might motivate any heel's reformation.

Groundhog Day keeps Phil in Punxsutawney so long that he becomes the one best able to anticipate and help out in a whole series of local crises. His rehabilitation even includes learning to play the piano to impress the romantic Rita. In so doing, he also impresses his piano teacher, who compliments him on reaching an extraordinary level of competence after only one lesson. By that time, of course, Phil has learned humility and explains his quick mastery in genetic terms: "My father was a piano mover."

I start with a prejudice in favor of John Sayles ("the Return of the Secaucus Seven." "Matewan") not only because he writes his own scripts but because he works on limited budgets and chooses subjects that transcend box-office formulas. The good news is that his new movie, "Passion Fish" (Miramax), is making it to the suburban malls where it can find a larger audience.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Groundhog Day
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.