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sycasey 2.0

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day?  

7 members have voted

  1. 1. Does Groundhog Day go in the space capsule?

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Paul & Amy relive 1993’s Bill Murray time loop comedy Groundhog Day! They learn about the tempestuous relationship between Murray and director Harold Ramis, read an excerpt from the original script, and compare the film to another magical realist classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. Plus: Just how long was Phil stuck in that loop anyways?

This is the third episode in our Couple Goals series; next week’s film is Groundhog Day…er, actually it’s A Place In The Sun! Learn more about the show at unspooledpod.com, follow us on Twitter @unspooled and Instagram @unspooledpod, and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify. You can also listen to our Stitcher Premium game show Screen Test right now at https://www.stitcher.com/show/unspooled-screen-test, and apply to be a contestant at unspooledpod@gmail.com! Photo credit: Kim Troxall

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One thing not discussed much in the episode is how much this movie has been interpreted and claimed by various religious scholars as a lesson in the tenets of various faiths: Buddhism, Catholicism, Judaism, etc.

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/55243/8-creative-interpretations-groundhog-day

It does seem like there's some religious theme running through this movie: it opens with a shot of blue sky and clouds, peering into the heavens, Phil at one point thinks he might be a god, etc.

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I'm going to hold off on a rewatch until February 2nd because I'm corny like that so I'll have some more thoughts then, but I did go ahead and vote Yes. One of my favorite films of all time, I find myself constantly referencing it to this day. I don't seem to be alone since it is the cultural touchstone we all refer to when we talk about any film using a time loop of this nature (it basically created this "genre"). That staying power is enough for me to consider it one of the all-time greats.

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The "cultural touchstone" part is what convinced me to vote yes. Some other movies/shows have tried this same idea (Russian Doll, Palm Springs) but of course they are all referred to as the "Groundhog Day premise." So let's put the original on the rocket.

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Yea that's why I voted yes. I do love it and it is such a current milestone. I agree with Paul & Amy that it's mostly just the writing. Cinematically, it's pretty light and almost too "typical" (ie. the music, etc.). But the cast and the script carry it very far beyond that.

 

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M*A*S*H is much worse to me than Animal House. The former is convinced that its renegade doctor protagonists are just the coolest, and everyone else is a square who deserves to get dunked on by them. The latter is aware that its fraternity brothers are idiots.

As far as I'm aware, the first use of the idea of someone improving as they re-iterate the same day over and over until succeeding is "The Defence of Duffer's Drift", intended to educate British officers during the Boer War.

Despite liking When Herry Met Sally, I voted against it after agreeing with the negative review that it was a sort of watered down Woody Allen. Comparing Groundhog Day to It's a Wonderful Life, the differences are obvious enough (I didn't even think to compare them before) as to distinguish them. So many other films have tried to recapture the magic of Groundhog Day that I think it deserves a spot (moreso than Ghostbusters).

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So how long do we think Phil spent in the loop? I tend to agree with the higher estimates, just given the kinds of skills he picks up. I know Amy bagged on the kind of jazz they were playing at the end of the movie, but it seems to me that Phil's piano playing took some major skill and musical understanding there: he's embellishing the melody, doing fills and solos, leading a band of musicians who just met him . . . and doing it in front of an audience. To go from zero piano ability to that must have taken like five years at least. Then add in the ice sculpting, learning other languages, etc. I think he was in there for multiple decades.

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Apparently in the commentary Harold Ramis said that it's roughly 10 years, but I still like to imagine that it could've been centuries. He's memorized seemingly everyone's histories, learned numerous skills at a more than competent level, etc., and that's not considering how much time may have been spent wallowing in depression. I wonder how many days did Phil not even get out of bed.

I disagree with Amy and Paul's complaint about the music. I get what they're saying about it being lame, but I think some of that is part of the point. I immediately think of the corny polka music that opens the film, mirroring the polka music that plays during the Groundhog Ceremony; and the party jazz at the dance is what you'd hear at a event in this kind of quaint town. I think the music is appropriate and somewhat iconic (maybe just to me).

Regarding the cinematography, I never thought about it before but after listening to the podcast I watched the film keeping it in mind, and I have to say, I think it deserves more credit than they are giving. This film is very dependent on each day's scenes being shot in a consistent way so that each difference is that much more instantly recognizable. Obviously they filmed each iteration of a day at the same time (I would assume for the most part) so continuity is somewhat easier than if they were filmed days or weeks apart, but they still had to be well thought out and organized. I also think the movements and framing of the camera are more than competently done. Sure, there wasn't anything that "blew my mind" like when The Dark Knight suddenly shifted into IMAX aspect ratio, but I think there's something to be said about the "invisible" nature to some of these things. Sometimes it takes an extremely deft touch to not stand out, whether it's the camera or the score. I think this film is doing a lot of subtle things that all build up subconsciously, allowing the active part of your mind to focus on the subtleties of the acting, writing, etc..

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