Cult Movie: Haven't I already told you it's 25 years since Groundhog Day was released?

Bill Murray and the groundhog in Groundhog Day
Ralph McLean

GROUNDHOG Day is 25 years old. While I can't quite shake this nagging feeling that I may have already told you this, it's still a fact worth celebrating.

The wondrously world-weary Bill Murray is TV weatherman Phil Connors, a jaded and embittered man who arrives in the small Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney to do his annual report on Groundhog Day, when the animal of the title emerges to predict when spring will come.

For this, his fourth trip, things are a little different for Phil. He's got a cameraman called Larry (Chris Elliot) and a new network producer Rita (Andie McDowell) in tow, for a start. He stays in a cute little B&B, does his cute little report where the Groundhog does his thing and when a freak blizzard hits town he's forced to stay one more night in his humble lodgings. The next morning he wakes at 6am and everything is the same as it was the day before.

For reasons never fully explained, perhaps it's just his general cockiness that cause it, he is forced to relive February 2 over and over again. Every Groundhog day he wakes to the same old routine, the same sound of Sonny and Cher blasting from his bedside stereo and he meets the same old people who greet him with the same old inane banter on the street.

After a brief period of adjustment Phil soon learns to fleece the situation. The question 'What if tomorrow never comes?' looms large and Phil takes full advantage of all the fringe benefits around such a bizarre concept. Soon even he tires of all the cash and women on offer and he realises that if he wants to break the spell he must rethink his entire approach to life and make himself a better man.

Murray, so good in the likes of Caddyshack and Ghostbusters in this era, is a little aloof here and clearly the jump to romantic comedies from crazy ones is a move he finds a little bit harder than he probably thought it would be. He's still great, though, and nobody does resigned apathy quite like old Bill.

Fun as it is to watch, the whole thing suffers a little from a fairly slight concept that feels more like a tidy little Twilight Zone spoof than a big league Hollywood comedy but director Harold Ramis digs deep to create an appealing vibe of time standing still until Phil learns his all important life lesson.

Oddly enough, Groundhog Day didn't exactly set the world alight upon its original release in 1993. It failed to really deliver the goods at the box office or find much of a home in critics' hearts either. It is only with the passing of time, numerous DVD releases and the repeated sighting of the film on TV screens that have made it a so-called modern classic.

Which reminds me, have I told you that its 25 years since Groundhog Day was released?

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