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Darryl A. Armstrong

Groundhog Day

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Do we really not have a thread on the film that topped our Top 25 Divine Comedies list?

 

Link to our thread on Harold Ramis.

 

David Dark just posted this on Facebook and it strikes me as exactly right:
 

"It's a story about God holding a man still until he can't squirm anymore." - Dan Harmon on Harold Ramis & Groundhog Day

 


"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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Just watched this again today after picking it up on DVD, and saw someone who looked familiar: a young Michael Shannon portrays the happy groom who receives Wrestlemania tickets from Phil near the end of the film. A quick look on IMDB reveals it's one of Shannon's first movie performances, if not the first.

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I watched this film last night - a family selection after the girls' first choice, Thor: Ragnarok, proved unavailable. I was reassured by the switch because I much prefer GD to T:R, but also because I told myself, in this season of watches/rewatches for our 2020 Top 100 list, that this was a nominee I needed to view again.

Nope. Although we did have it on an earlier list, which is what I must have been thinking of.

As I watched, I was mostly delighted, although the film is not as tight as I had remembered. For some reason I had it in my head that this was a lean film - maybe 88 minutes (I don't know why that runtime was in my head). It's not too much longer than that - it's 101 minutes - but I felt its length at moments, and wondered why. (A couple of family members, who mostly enjoyed the film, could be heard asking, "How much longer?" at points. That surprised me.)

I wonder if it's the very repetition of each day that affects the second act. Where is this film going? we might ask - between well earned laughter, I might add. (But did I ask that when I first saw the film? I don't remember! I only remember being positive on the overall movie at the time.)

I realize this film has entered the Comedy Pantheon since its release - a gratifying result that I didn't see coming at the time. Maybe that was just me. But outside the rosy retrospection, does anyone criticize this movie? I'm not negative on it by any means, but I honestly had been thinking it was pretty much perfect - until last night, when I found myself asking questions while watching that I don't usually ask of "pretty much perfect" movies. Again, I don't dislike the movie; on the contrary, I love most of it! But the less-than-perfectness is nagging at me today. 


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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3 minutes ago, Christian said:

But outside the rosy retrospection, does anyone criticize this movie?

A quick look at Rotten Tomatoes reveals a total of 3 "rotten" reviews. And one of them mentions pacing.

 

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9 minutes ago, Christian said:

I watched this film last night - a family selection after the girls' first choice, Thor: Ragnarok, proved unavailable. I was reassured by the switch because I much prefer GD to T:R, but also because I told myself, in this season of watches/rewatches for our 2020 Top 100 list, that this was a nominee I needed to view again.

Nope. Although we did have it on an earlier list, which is what I must have been thinking of.

I did nominate Run Lola Run which I think covers a lot of the same ground. 

Quote

But outside the rosy retrospection, does anyone criticize this movie?

I wouldn't say I hate the movie, but I've always found its elevated status a bit puzzling. Part of that is that I don't like Murray's screen persona, whether its this or Ghostbusters or Life Aquatic or Meatballs or What About Bob? or that Sofia Coppola film whose title is escaping me at the moment but which everyone loves so much more than I. His mugging makes it harder for me to take seriously the darker elements of despair that are supposed to (I think) be a goad for the character's transformation. 

If right brain needs to justify lizard brain aversion, I'll say maybe the film argues for purgatory when I'm not sure I believe that exists or in the perfectibility of man.  

That being said, there was a brief period in the 90s where I thought Andie McDowell was so damn charming that she could make even Bill Murray watchable.

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Here's SDG's write-up for Groundhog Day from the A&F "Comedies" list, since he probably won't be checking in himself:

Quote

Widely ranked among Hollywood’s greatest spiritual parables, Groundhog Day has been claimed by existentialists, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and Christians of all communions. Projection? In specifics, perhaps; in evocative power, no. A comic fantasy conceit—a single day Bill Murray keeps reliving—occasions sharply funny soundings in helplessness, power, consequences, immortality, nihilism, longing, love, self-indulgence, self-worship, self-awareness and finally selflessness and growth, with Andie MacDowell as Murray’s Beatrice, guiding him to true fulfillment. The movie’s master-stroke: its silence on why Murray becomes stuck—and unstuck. - Steven D. Greydanus

So, FWIW.


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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