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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Groundhog Day: Special Edition
Groundhog Day: Special Edition
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG // January 29, 2002
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 19, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

One of the more entertaining comedies of the past 10 years, Harold Ramis' "Groundhog Day" contains one of the more original concepts in movies in a while paired with an excellent performance (one of his most memorable) from Bill Murray. Murray stars as Phil, an arrogant, mean-spirited weatherman who believes that it's only moments before he jumps to a major network. Along with cameraman Larry(Chris Elliot) and producer Rita(Andie McDowell), Phil heads off to Punxsutawney, Pa to cover "Groundhog Day" once again to see if the little creature will see its shadow.

Many irritated comments later, the day ends with Phil stuck in Punxsutawney. Where he's literally stuck that day, stranger things happen. He wakes up the next day to hear the same song playing on the radio. As he walks out the door, he finds that he's in the same day as the previous day. And the next day, it happens once more. And again, and again and again - Groundhog Day plays in a continual loop.

Murray's performance is nothing short of brilliant, offering fantastic comedic timing and an undercurrent of insanity to some of the scenes after he's found out his situation. McDowell and Elliot do decent supporting work, but it's Murray's show all the way as he gets some of the best lines of the movie ("don't drive angry" he tells a groundhog driving the car in one classic scene). There's hardly anything that isn't too enjoyable in the film, with the exception of George Fenton's slightly goofy score.

Even the repeating day's events remain funny as little variables get thrown into the mix. There's a bit of sweetness and a bit of sappiness, but the film never gets too corny. Strong editing keeps things moving and the 100 minute running time stays nicely paced. All-in-all, "Groundhog Day" remains a great effort from all involved - a great original concept brought to the screen wonderfully.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Groundhog Day" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation does offer somewhat improved image quality over the original DVD edition. While some flaws remain the same, some issues like softness are better here. The original release appeared a bit soft at times, while this edition appears more consistently crisp, especially in the outdoor scenes, where the picture is clear enough to practically feel the cold air.

On the other hand, the original edition DVD displayed some minor print flaws at times. Some specks and the occasional mark appeared there and, unfortunately, they make a return appearance again here. Thankfully, there are only a few very minor instances of edge enhancement and no pixelation. The film's color palette is rather subdued, but the interior scenes provide warmer colors. Both warm and cold tones appeared crisply presented here, with no smearing or other problems. While not without a few flaws, the picture remains quite pleasant and somewhat improved over the earlier edition. Subtitles are provided in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean and Thai.

SOUND: "Groundhog Day" was originally advertised as including both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks for this new edition. The original DVD edition of the film offered only a 2.0 soundtrack, so it suprised and pleased many to see the inclusion of both new audio presentations. Unfortunately, those eagerly awaiting the comedy-audio of "Groundhog Day" in DTS will be dissapointed - the DTS soundtrack, although clearly mentioned on the back of the box, is nowhere to be found. The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation, as well as the 2.0 presentation, are the two tracks included here.

Given that the original 2.0 soundtrack was extremely ordinary, it's a very pleasant suprise that the new Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is very good. It's certainly nothing too agressive or remarkable, but there are a few little touches along the way that make it a more enjoyable experience than previous editions. The George Fenton score is the prime element that is distributed to the surrounds; the rear speakers also fire up nicely during the Groundhog celebration that happens (again and again). There's even some nice little ambient sounds that pop up in the rear speakers on occasion.

Audio quality was generally very good. The score sounded light and lively, coming through with considerably better clarity and overall sound quality than the 2.0 track was able to provide. Dialogue also sounded natural, if a tiny bit rough now and then. A very nice effort that's a solid improvement over past editions.

MENUS: The main menu is a wonderfully done animated map, with nice animated transitions between menus.

EXTRAS::

Commentary: This is a commentary from director Harold Ramis. The track is similar to the other commentaries that he's done for films like "Analyze This" and "Bedazzled"; he'll provide some good information and interesting stories, then the track will go silent for extended periods of time. When Ramis does chat here, he does go over some interesting production information, such as many of the ideas and concepts that didn't end up in the final film. There's some instances of Ramis narrating the plot, but more often than not, I found this a decent commentary.

"The Weight Of Time": Similar to the commentary, this 24-minute documentary occasionally boasts some interesting or mildly entertaining material, but a sizable chunk of the program wasn't particularly memorable. Offering interviews with director Ramis and members of the cast and crew, we hear a fair amount about the production of the movie, but we also hear a fair deal about general topics - what it was like to work with, etc.

Also: Trailer, bios, production notes.

Final Thoughts: "Groundhog Day" is a superbly written and acted comedy that's a highlight in Murray's career. Columbia/Tristar's new "Special Edition" doesn't provide that much in the way of supplements, but it does provide improved video quality and especially audio quality. Recommended.

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