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Groundhog Day

Columbia/Tri-Star // Unrated // January 27, 2009
List Price: $28.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted February 22, 2009 | E-mail the Author
The
Movie:



 


There are very few films that are truly unique, especially
since when one comes around it's quickly copied over and over if it has
even a
modicum of success.  One film that is
different from the rest is Groundhog
Day
, the tale of a man who gets trapped
repeating the same day over and over. 
What's more surprising is that it isn't a science fiction film,
but
rather a romantic comedy (one that accents the comedy and downplays the
romance
for most of the picture).  Bill Murray
gives one of the best performances of his career (including style="font-style: italic;">Lost in Translation

which I really liked) in this modern day classic.  The
Blu-ray transfer will please fans and
though the extras are only mediocre, they round out the disc nicely.


 


style="width: 400px; height: 263px;" alt=""
src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/81/1235339913_2.jpg">




Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is a weatherman at a Pittsburgh
TV station who has dreams of making it on a major network. 
Insufferable, abrasive and a typical prima
donna, Phil dreads going to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania every year to
cover the
February 2nd Groundhog Day festival there, the oldest in the
nation.  This year on the annual trip he
gets to be unpleasant to his cameraman (the criminally underused Chris
Eliot)
and his new, constantly happy producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell).


 


Constantly complaining about how objectionable the small town
of Punxsutawney
is, Phil wants to leave as soon as the festival is over. 
Unfortunately a blizzard (that Phil
ironically predicted would miss the area) snows them in and Phil has to
spend
another day in hicksville. 


 


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src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/81/1235339970_1.jpg">




That's when something odd happens.  The
next morning Phil wakes up and it's
February 2nd once again.  He
meets the same people, has the same conversations and gets trapped once
again
in the small town.  The next day it's
February 2nd once again, as it is the next day, and the next
day,
and the next...  Phil is forced to relive
the day over and over, until he gets it right.


 


There are a lot of things going for this movie.  Not
the least of which is the two leads.  Andie
MacDowell is delightful and brings the
right mixture of sex appeal and bubbling personality to the film
without being
too sappy or unreasonably sweet.  Bill
Murray makes the film however.  He plays
the offensive egotistical Phil perfectly at the beginning of the film.style="">  Phil comes across as an ass, but a funny ass
and he's never so mean as to make the audience turn against him.style="">  As he's forced to relive the same day over
and over he mellows, and his nicer persona seems just as real.style="">  It's a nice progression and w:st="on">Murray pulls it
off wonderfully.


 


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src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/81/1235339913_1.jpg">




The film has a lot of laughs too, and never seems to
drag.  When the obnoxious insurance
salesman Ned runs up to Phil (for the countless time from Phil's
perspective)
who just decks him with a punch, it's hard not to crack up.style="">  The same can be said when Phil steals the
star hedgehog and leads the police through the town on a high speed
chase. 


 


The amazing thing about this movie however it's more than
just a silly gag-filled comedy.  It has a
message that's thankfully not pounded over the viewer's heads:style="">  you choose how to live your life and that
each day can be a new beginning.  As Phil
experiences the same day over and over he goes through different phases.style="">  First disbelief, then when he realizes that
there are no consequences for anything he does, he lives for pleasure
and
fun.  Eventually that turns out to be an
empty dead end he gets depressed, but even suicide offers no relief.style="">  It's only then that he examines his life and
has a life-changing transformation.


 


The style="font-weight: bold;">Blu-ray Discstyle="font-weight: bold;">:





 



Video:


 


This disc comes with a nice looking 1.85:1 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
encoded image that does the film justice though it's not one of the
stronger
Blu-ray's out there.  The image had a
nice amount of detail in the close ups, with all of the creases and
crags on
Bill Murray's face showing up well.  The
image was a bit soft in several scenes though, and the colors were not
as
bright as I was expecting and looked a little muted in some places.style="">  There was grain present, especially in the
scenes were the daytime sky was predominant, but this always seemed
like a
natural amount.  While the film never
pops like the best examples of HD tend to do, this disc still makes the
film
look very good and much better than the SD DVD.


 


Audio:


 


Viewers get to relive February 2nd over and over
again in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound.  Like
the video, the audio track fits the film. 
It's mainly dialog based, but they still make use of the full
soundstage
when they can.  The grounghog event in
the center of town has a lot of the noise and singing thrown to the
rears and
there are several other examples of neat audio effects such as when the
tray of
dishes in the dinner comes crashing down from behind the viewer.style="">  While the sound design won't wow many people,
the soundtrack does its job well.


 style="font-weight: bold;">


Extras:


 


This disc sports all of the bonus items from the last DVD
release of this film, along with a new BD-only feature that's pretty
unimpressive (more on that later).   The
fact that Bill Murray doesn't appear in any of the recently filmed
bonus
material is a big disappointment. 


 


First off is a commentary track by director Harold
Ramis.  It's not that impressive, and
drags in more than a few places.  He
talks a lot about the actors (they were all wonderful) and the
production but
not about the story itself.  Ramis also
appears in "The Weight of Time" a 25-minute look at the film with
screenwriter
Danny Rubin, producer Trevor Albert and actors Andie MacDowell and
Stephen
Tobolowsky (Neddle Nose Ned).  This was
fun, with Ramis talking about the reception the film received and the
positive
reaction from the spiritual community. 
He also reveals that Tom Hanks was offered the main role but
turned it
down.  The other featurette on the disc
is a seven-minute long look at groundhogs in the wild, "Study of
Groundhogs: A
Real-Life Look at Marmots."  It's mildly
interesting but has almost no replay value.


 


The bonus section wraps up with six deleted scenes, (the one
with Bill playing pool should have remained in the film, it's
brilliant) and
the Blu-ray exclusive "Needle Nose Ned's Trivia Track." 
This is only available to viewers who have
Profile 1.1 players, but if  you don't,
you're not missing much.  Stephen
Tobolowsky who plays the obnoxious insurance salesman Ned ("Bing!") in
the film
pops up occasionally or walks on to the screen to give some random
trivia or
ask a question to see how much you've been paying attention.style="">  "What is the name of the TV station where
Phil works?"  Most of the trivia is
pretty dull and this track comes across as obnoxious rather than fun.


 style="font-weight: bold;">


Final Thoughts:


 


It's no surprise that Buddhists and many other organizations
of faith have embraced this film.  It has
a simple but profound message that is hidden cleverly inside a
hilarious
comedy.  This Blu-ray disc looks fine
though it doesn't pop or have the vibrancy of the best HD discs.style="">  An excellent movie with a solid high
definition transfer, this comes highly
recommended
.


 


Note: The
images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not
necessarily
represent the image quality on the disc.
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