And like clockwork, it’s that time of year to dust off that Billy Murray every-man classic. If you've never seen Groundhog Day, stop reading this immediately and go watch it. It’s a masterpiece, and I don’t mind saying: if you don’t like Groundhog Day, you have no soul.
Murray portrays a narcissistic, cynical, city weatherman who hates the winter almost as much as spending it in podunk towns like Punxsutawney, PA. A town where - incidentally - he becomes trapped by a blizzard while on assignment. But the worst part is, he wakes up tomorrow to find that it's not:
"I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it's always February 2nd, and there's nothing I can do about it."
Murray is stuck, living the same day in his personal hell, over and over and over again.
I won’t divulge much more than that, but the sheer magic of this film is that it hits on an existential issue that everyone deals with:
"What would you do if you were stuck in one place... and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?"
Because like it or not, at some point in everyone's life they become stuck in the mud, spinning their tires. When every day is the same, and it seems that there's nothing one can do. And in the end, the answer is: that only when we use the moment to better ourselves and the lives of others can we ever become lovable and happy.
"It was the end of a very long day... Is there anything I can do for you today?"
According to the director, he has received letters from all sorts of spiritual groups - Jews, Yogists, Buddhists, Jesuits and Fundamentalists - all stating how much they love this movie. Yet my dad still maintains his dislike.
He must have no soul. Or at least hates Billy Murray. One of the two.
But that's enough of that. The fact remains it's a "seasonal cult-classic" that must be watched every year. Everyone has 'em. What are some of yours?
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1988): Jeff Goldblum and Dick Butkus. Receipe for disaster, yet somehow holds up.
- The Goonies (1985): - Kids, crooks, girls, gadgets, and pirates: Spielberg's instant 80's classic.
- You've Got Mail (1996), While You Were Sleeping (1996): Chick flicks? Sure. But I've got sisters...
- Planes Trains and Automobiles (1987): John Candy and Steve Martin team up in this comic Turkey-day tear-jerker.
- Die Hard (1988): John McClain and... Officer Winslow. The only Die Hard movie really worth watching.
- Groundhog Day
St. Patrick’s Day
- Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959): Special effects, Sean Connery sings, Leprechauns sauced on poteen... best when watched with Irish Car Bombs.
- Scarlet and the Black (1983): Gregory Peck faces off against Nazi commander Christopher Plummer in this made for TV true story.
- La vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful, 1997): Roberto Benigni's Italian Hollocaust tear-jerker.
- The Passion of the Christ (2004): Not exactly a popcorn movie.
- Hoosiers (1986): Still the all-time best sports movie.