I love recommending another take to a film that’s about another take, after another and another and another.
“Groundhog Day” just may be the best Bill Murray comedy, and that’s a pretty high standard. It’s probably in a fourway cluster at the top of my favorites (with “Meatballs”, “Caddyshack and “Scrooged”) but this is his crowning achievement.
Everything about the film works. For once, Murray is supported by his supporting cast rather than overshadowed or competed with. Everything is structured to make Murray look good, sound good, and connect with us, the audience.
The only people in the world who know what’s happening to him are Murray and us. The film never says why or how or for how long. Who cares. Murray gets to repeat every day ad infinitium. That leads to some very funny situations.
He becomes a master pianist. He meets everyone in town, and happens to be there when they need help the most and he provides it. He does everything from chiropractic adjustments to fixing flat tires to catching a kid falling out of a tree.
He also becomes invincible, dying of electric shocks, falls, crashes and other assorted accidents, only to wake up alive in the morning of the same day he just died in.
There are literally dozens of Murray’s sarcastic comments throughout the experience, that are only funny to us, because we know what he means. “What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”
Layered into this perfect comedy is a semblance of a moral, as if this curse of the repeating day is supposed to teach him some sort of lesson. He’s not stuck in this cycle to learn ice sculpturing. It’s got something to do with love, and its apparently more than figure out how to bed his female producer through trial and error.
It leads to a storybook error, and that’s actually a bit of a letdown. We’re having too much fun repeating the same day with Murray year after year to get bogged down with Murray redeeming himself to break the cycle.
That’s why we watch movies like this over and over and still laugh.
Any scene with Ned Ryerson is an absolute crackup. We get to know his spiel better than Murray, and each time it’s “a doozy”.