In a world in which virtually every narrative idea has been done to death, only a select handful of films can seriously be described as genre-defining. Fewer still could be said to have defined an entire concept, but Groundhog Day, a relatively unassuming 1993 comedy that reunited writer-director Harold Ramis with his Ghostbusters co-star Bill Murray, has emerged as a genuinely totemic moment – as likely to be cited in discussions of existential philosophy as it is in celebrations of high-grade 90s rom-coms.
Like other cinematic touchstones, the level of respect retroactively applied to Groundhog Day can be a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s unquestionably a funny film, but the sheer amount of praise it inspires can set impossible expectations in the mind of the viewer. So it was this week with my co-host, for whom the description ‘the Citizen Kane of comedy’ is far from a compliment.
To be clear, we both enjoyed Groundhog Day a lot. The role of embittered small-town weatherman Phil Connors is tailor-made for Bill Murray, and the script consistently finds fun, thoughtful and surprising ways to play on his capacity for natural snark. But watching the film in 2020, hard to avoid the suspicion that it’s one of those films that’s a fair bit easier to admire than it is to truly love.
In this week’s podcast, we discuss manifest destiny, Andie Macdowell’s career of playing milquetoast 90s love interests, horrible of-the-moment fashion and much more, before diving into some sequel ideas that explore what might happen the day after spending an eternity in limbo with only a nice-but-dull TV producer and a town full of woodchuck-obsessed rubes for company.
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Next time, we’re attempting to solve the equation to the perfect Podcast episode with a cerebral cult classic that we’ve both had on our waiting list for a long, long time. Until then, happy listening and remember – insurance salesmen need heroes too.