Groundhog Day, Special Edition, on DVD
Let's do the Time Warp Again...
Bill Murray is a cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman at the beginning of
this remarkably intelligent Harold Ramis film that's as much a touching
and intelligent drama as it is the screwball comedy you'd think it is.
Murray is Phil Connors, a real prima donna with delusions of grandeur.
It's Bill Murray at his most typical and when he's assigned to cover Groundhog
Day festivities in nearby Punxsatawney, for what seems to him the zillionth
time, he's determined to have as miserable a time as possible - and to
make everyone else's experience just as bad.
So he and his cameraman (Chris Elliott) and new producer (Andie MacDowell)
head up there in a station van the day before, so they can be up bright-eyed
and bushy tailed in time to catch the early morning bash nd its bright-eyed
and bushy tailed star.
The next morning dawns normally and Phil knocks off his standups quickly
and professionally, but with no extra effort given. But when they start
heading back to Pittsburgh they're stopped by a blizzard and must spend
the night in the small town and with the small town people Phil chooses
to look down on so much.
Next morning dawns suspiciously like the previous one - and it doesn't
take Phil long to realize that, much to his horror and chagrin, he's back
at Groundhog Day and is living the experience over again. No one else
is aware of this time warp, but Phil finds himself experiencing the previous
day all over again.
And again, and again and again. He doesn't know why, but he's living
the same day over and over again. And there's nothing he can do about
So he decides to exploit it. Every day he learns a little more about
those around him and he uses that knowledge to get things - whether it
be sex, money, or just a few jollies. We get to see him go through initial
panic at the situation, to acceptance, to flippancy, to - well, watch
for yourself to see how Phil grows as the movie unfolds.
Murray is terrific as Phil. Though we've never been big fans of his typically
smug character it's perfectly suited for this role and Murray plays it
very well indeed. In fact, we can't think of anyone who could have done
it better. MacDowell is classy and graceful, far too good for Murray's
Phil - at least the Phil we love to hate at the movie's beginning. Chris
Elliott is a good straight man for Murray and the rest of the supporting
cast is great.
Director/co-producer/co-writer Ramis has fashioned a movie that's funny
and poignant at the same time, kind of "A Christmas Carol" for the 1990's
and we enjoyed the film a lot more than we thought we would, even though
we're longtime fans of Ramis.
Columbia Tristar has put together a pretty good Special Edition package
for the movie, though there aren't as many extras as with some "SE" DVD's.
The film itself features digitally mastered anamorphic widescreen video
(16x9 TV compatible) and the picture quality is first rate, with great
color and detail. The audio, which is supposed to offer the choice of
Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 channel surround (but which only offers Dolby
Digital), is also top notch. The music sounds great and, though there
isn't a huge amount of surround information, the soundtrack on the whole
fills the room most satisfyingly.
The extras start with a running commentary featuring the always witty
Ramis. There's also a very interesting documentary called "The Weight
of Time" that's really a "Making Of" feature, some production notes inside
the liner (we wish all DVD's would have these), trailers, and filmographies.
Not a lot of extras, but at least they're pretty substantive - something
we can't say about many of these enhanced DVD's.
Groundhog Day, the Special Edition, from Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
101 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital
and DTS 5.1 Surround
Starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott
Produced by Trevor Albert and Harold Ramis
Written by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis, Directed by Harold Ramis
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