Friday, February 02, 2007

Iiiiiiit's Groundhog Day!

And by Groundhog Day, I of course mean the movie, not the day itself. I could care less about a rodent seeing its shadow. No, today is the day to celebrate the greatest American (or otherwise) comedy of the 20th century.

There are very few movies I can watch more than once (I've really only seen the Star Wars movies about ten times each, and only once each in the last decade), but Groundhog Day is the one movie I can watch again and again and never tire of. Which is ironic since the movie is essentially the same set of scenes played over and over again.

Groundhog Day remains my favorite comedy (it falls anywhere from number 3 to number 5 on my list of all-time favorite movies) fourteen years after having first seen it. It's exactly the kind of movie I like, and one I wish I could have made.

One one level, it's just a very funny movie. The jokes never drift into absurdity, always fitting the scene and moving the plot forward.

On the second level, it's the cleverest movie I've ever seen. More than any other movie with a gee-whiz idea, this movie takes it and explores it from every angle, really pushing the concept to its limit. What WOULD you do if you had to repeat the same day over and over again?

And if that's all the movie wanted to do, it would have been a comedy on a level with Ghostbusters. But Groundhog Day's launch into the comedy pantheon occurs because it seamlessly makes the movie ABOUT something deeper. It adds my personal favorite life-theme, redemption.

It's never too late to start appreciating the people around you and the things that happen to you and near you. Even if you've lived the same day over and over again for 10,000 years (as the filmmakers sometimes imply), you can still start fresh and make a change.

There's a lot more to it than that, of course, but that's what resonates so strongly within me. My life often feels like a Groundhog Day, with themes (rather than days) repeating over and over again. Every once in awhile I open my eyes and appreciate all the things around me, and/or learn from my mistakes, and then like Phil, I get to move on to the next great stage of my life.

There's a great article in New Republic (I don't read it, I found this online this morning) that discusses the enduring popularity of Groundhog Day (the movie) and its surprising cultural impact. Even though I've seen and read about the movie countless times, just like the movie, I was able to discover something new. Enjoy the article here.

So Happy Groundhog Day. And make sure you bundle up, cause it's cold out there.