Starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliott
Screenplay by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis
Directed by Harold Ramis
Production Year 1993
Running time 101 minutes
Harold Ramis, the co-writer and director of this sublime romantic comedy, died this week at the untimely age of 69. His career began in the early 1970s with the legendary Second City First comedy troupe in Chicago where he worked with John Belushi among others. He moved on to work with the National Lampoon team and in 1978 co-wrote Animal House - one of the most successful and anarchic comedies of the decade. Ramis then penned the screenplay for Meatballs starring Bill Murray - with whom he would collaborate on six occasions in the years that followed. In 1984 they made Ghostbusters together - another huge worldwide hit.
Ramis directed a dozen films in his career - almost all workmanlike but forgettable comedies - with the single exception of Groundhog Day - his undoubted masterpiece. Like It’s A Wonderful Life before it, Groundhog Day deals with profound themes of time, individual destiny and fate through the framework of romantic comedy. The film tells the story of a cynical TV weather man who inexplicably becomes caught in a time loop in which he is trapped in a small town and experiences the same day over and over - forcing him to examine himself and his attitudes to others through the repetition of certain key events.
Bill Murray gives a characteristically eccentric and layered performance while Andie MacDowell is the perfect foil to his curmudgeonly central character. The script is sharp and extremely funny and the plotting elegant and satisfying. The phrase Groundhog Day has entered into the language - a rare achievement for any film title and repeated viewings reveal this to be one of the most perfectly-crafted comedies of modern cinema. You may have seen it before - but can you be sure it will turn out the way you expect?