Some sci-fi films are aggressively marketed as such with stirring trailers and boastful news stories about how good they are, how much they cost, or some conflation of the two. Others sneak into the movie dead zone of early February, marketed as comedies from the team that brought you Ghostbusters and Caddyshack. Groundhog Day‘s not generally regarded as a sci-fi movie, but it introduced more people to the idea of stable temporal loops than anything outside of Star Trek. Sci-fi fans should totally claim it while the claiming’s good. Comedy fans (assuming such people still exist) don’t seem to be using it.
Anyway, it’s a classic that hasn’t aged a day in the years since its release…apart from a minor point about long distance telephone lines sure to confuse anyone would can’t do research or remember the early 1990s. Technical stuff aside, Groundhog Day‘s still a frighteningly accurate portrait modern ennui and its dozens, if not hundreds (or three hundred millions) of permutations. It’s not as “funny” as some entries on the resumes of its director or its headliner, but it is more human. We would also accept “humane” as a descriptor, since the movie goes out of its way to ground its Out There, SF ideas in the simplest terms. Every age needs that. Everyone needs a Groundhog Day.
Not that I’m advocating everyone go out and start acting as if there were no tomorrow. That would be silly. That’s at least half the reason Goundhog Day exists. It’s a very silly film, knows this, and uses that as a stalking horse. We go in thinking this is another Bill Murray vehicle, an industrial strength delivery system for his jokes. Inevitably, we lower our emotional defenses, allowing the movie to sucker punch us by making us feel something, the shady bastard. What gave it the right? Continue reading Groundhog Day (1993)