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Monday, February 25, 2008

Groundhog Day: A great comedy

Groundhog Day is a movie released in 1993 that was a sleeper hit; praised by critics on its release but not exceptionally. It was with the passage of time that the movie got more praise, and became much more famous, especially on the DVD circuit. The movie is based on the concept of Groundhog Day, a holiday celebrated in the United States & Canada on the 2nd of January. So what is the concept of Groundhog Day ? It is an irrational method of determining whether winter will soon end ? So, on January 2, supposedly a Groundhog is observed when it comes out of its burrow, and if it sees its shadow, it will return into its burrow implying that winter will continue for 6 more weeks; if it fails to see its shadow as it is cloudy, winter will soon end. One of the most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil found in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, USA.

Groundhog Day (1993)
Using this concept, a delightful movie was made. The movie, released in 1993 is a comedy, starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell, based on a story by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis and based on a story by Rubin. The movie did well on release, grossing over $70 million in the US itself, but was not rated to be nothing very great. It was a much bigger hit on the DVD and home video circuit, and was evaluated to be among the top 100 funny movies. The movie is a lot about being able to get away from being focused on only oneself, and learning more about what other people want, and understanding them. Accordingly, the movie has also struck a chord with religious leaders who play on the film's theme of slowly moving away from selfishness to a sort of rebirth where you can focus on others, and become more selfless.
The movie also made the concept of Groundhog Day, (a day that keeps on repeating itself without end and without variation) a very popular term among the US military, where it is now refers to a repetitive, unchanging and unpleasant duty. Some examples of the use of the term by military personnel ranges from Somalia, Bosnia, and Iraq.
The movie itself is about a weatherman who gets stuck in a situation of no change, where the day keeps on repeating itself over and over again, and only he is able to understand that the same day is getting repeated; slowly he changes from being a self-centered person to a person capable of understanding others and appreciate them. So, Phil Connors is a Pittsburg TV Weatherman, not very happy about having to cover the 2nd of January Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney. He reaches Punxsutawney along with his producer Rita (Andie McDowell) and cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott) to cover the event (celebrated as a festival in Punxsutawney. Once the celebration ends, Phil is unable to leave since a blizzard envelops the town (ironically, Phil had predicted that the blizzard would miss the town). However, in a major shock, when he gets up at 6 AM to the song on his alarm (Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe"), he realizes that it is the 2nd, and not the 3rd. He remembers the previous day, but everybody else thinks that it is the 2nd (without any memory of already having spent the previous day). This cycle keeps on repeating itself.
Initially he realizes that this repeat gives him great power, so he is able to steal money, drive drunk, lead police in a chase, and seduce beautiful women, but he is not able to seduce his producer Rita. Soon, he tires of all this, and gets frustrated. Not able to see an end, and tiring of this repeating of the same cycle, he soon tries to commit suicide many times, and succeeds, but with ultimate failure. He just gets up the next day at the same time, on the same song.
Soon, he turns a new life, trying to improve himself. He is able to convince Rita of the truth by telling her about more and more things that he learns, and also turns more compassionate towards other, including savings the lives of many people. He also learns a number of complex tasks such as learning jazz piano, sculpt ice, and know about everybody in life. Finally, after much self-improvement, he is able to profess true love to Rita, and she accepts. And this causes the day to finally move to January 3.

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