Groundhog Day The Movie, Buddhism and Me
Groundhog Day Blog Comments by Paul Schindler
Feb. 15, 1999
By the way, I'm an old-school guy, who believes you say a lot about yourself by the film you identify as your favorite. For years, I went with the trite (and Pauline Kael) and said Citizen Kane. Now, Citizen Kane is a very good film. But a few years back I sat down and asked myself, "What film has brought me more consistent entertainment than any other I have seen in recent years? If it's a comedy, is it chock-full of real laughs that last? If it is a drama, does it move me?" And the answer was: Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. If you haven't seen it, rent it (or buy it) and watch it. If you have seen it before, see it again. It is a comic masterpiece. I laugh out loud every time I see it.
Feb. 14, 2000
My Favorite Movie, Redux With Groundhog Day just behind us and Valentine's Day just ahead, it is time to continue a Valentine's Day tradition of this column and remind everyone to go out and rent my personal favorite film of all time, the romantic comedy Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.
I picked this film a few years back, when I got tired of aping Pauline Kael by always saying that Citizen Kane was the best movie of all time. I approached the process with trepidation and careful thought. I think the answer to the question "What is your favorite movie" says a lot about you, both obvious and unobvious.
After I'd made my choice and start to broadcast it, one of my friends (or, perhaps, one of my children) asked if I was saying that I identified with a man who was doing the same things, wrong, over and over. Actually, no. The part of the film I identify with is the part where Murray changes.
In fact, one of the things I love about this film is the fact that it never overplays anything. Harold Ramis said once in an interview that he'd filmed a scene where Murray (Phil Connors), the "hero" of the film, walks past a classroom during a discussion of time and develops a theory about the time loop he's trapped in. Ramis wisely cut the scene. Who cares why? Nor does Ramis burden the film with any exposition whatsoever on the rules of the time loop: he just shows them to us. Finally, no one tells Murray how to get out.
The climactic moment of the film, when Murray stops wasting the endless loop and starts taking advantage of it, is like a buried lead in a newspaper story. He is teaching MacDowell to throw cards in a hat and says living the same day over and over is a curse. She tells him it doesn't have to be. And that's it; that's the exact moment when he changes, even if he does go to sleep with her next to him and awaken the next day to Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe."
The film won a British Academy Award and a London Critics Circle award for Ramis and Danny Rubin, who dreamed up the story and co-wrote the screenplay. The film was nominated for a Hugo (the science fiction award) and Bill Murray was up for, but didn't win, an MTV award for the film. Danny Rubin, obviously a genius, wrote just one film before and one film after and has no credits since 1994. Well, better one hit than none.
He now teaches at the College of Santa Fe. Previously, he taught screenwriting at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Columbia College and the National High School Institute. He worked for many years in professional theater companies, industrial films, and children's television.
Here's what Bill Murray says about the script in a Mr. Showbiz interview. [Editor's Note: this link is dead, but left here in case you want to try to find the original]
That script by that kid, Danny Rubin - the quality was unbelievable. His script, if you walked in the door, was a masterpiece. If any script I ever did should have won an Oscar, it was that one. It didn't even get noticed! It was because it was early. It came out at the beginning of the year, and by the time the awards came, it was forgotten.
And just once, he was struck by lightning and created one of the cleverest movie ideas ever.
For more information on the film, check out IMDB.
Here is Dan Grobstein's Feb. 2002 report on the new "enhanced" DVD of "Groundhog Day".
Back to the home page of Groundhog Day The Movie, Buddhism and Me
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Other material. This is a chronological "blog" of new Groundhog Day material as it accumulates; much of it once resided on the home page, but that page had become too large.
Groundhog Day essay in Stephen Simon's book, The Force Is With You: Mystical Movie Messages That Inspire Our Lives
Groundhog Day essay by Mario Sesti in the Museum of Modern Art catalog for, The Hidden God: Film and Faith
Groundhog Day by Ryan Gilbey, published by the British Film Institute and the University of California Press.
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