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Groundhog Day (Special 15th Anniversary Edition) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Image“Groundhog Day” is one of those timeless comedy films.  There is really absolutely nothing wrong with it.  The story is entertaining.  The acting is superb.  Harold Ramis succeeds without a doubt in the creation of this film.  Hardcore critics I’m sure will find plenty of nuances to criticize.  However, as far as I am concerned, this film is perfect fun.

Bill Murray stars as Phil Connors, a self-absorbed weatherman for a Pittsburgh news channel.  Each year he journeys to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the Groundhog’s festival.  Phil finds nothing interesting or fun about the festival, town or people.  He simply wants to get in and get out.  Cameraman Larry (Chris Elliot) is much more relaxed, but rather unsuccessful with the women.  New to the team is producer Rita (Andie MacDowell).  She is kind and warm-hearted and cannot understand Phil’s arrogance.

After covering the Groundhog’s festival, Phil and the team tried to head back to Pittsburgh.  However, the blizzard that wasn’t supposed to be, ends up forcing the roads closed.  They must return to the town of Punxsutawney.  And so it begins.  At 6 AM, Phil’s bed and breakfast alarm clock rings, playing the same song and talk show script as the day before, to Phil anyway.  To everyone else it is truly February 2nd.  Chalking it up to déjà vu, Phil goes about the day.  However, it happens again, and again, and again.  There is no end in sight for Phil and Groundhog’s day.

Phil starts his repetitive days throwing caution to the wind.  He eats whatever he wants, has sex with a different woman each night and steals money from an armored truck.  Once that wears thin on Phil, he turns his attention to Rita.  He spends countless days learning everything he can about her, ultimately to get her into bed.  After what seems like years of unsuccessful attempts, Phil turns his attention to suicide.  He attempts every way imaginable to kill himself. After suicide fails, Phil decides to make the best of his repetitive days.  He begins to better himself through learning a musical instrument and helping those in need.  Eventually everything works out for our beloved Phil.

Harold Ramis does a terrific writing and directing job with this film, unlike his later work on “Bedazzled.”  Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell are dynamite.  They play extremely well off of each other.

The video quality is a nice upgrade form the previously released standard DVD.  Still, the video is only as good as its source.  It is decent for a 1993 film.  However, it is plagued by problems, which are easily overlooked.  First and foremost, the image is haunted by source grain.  This was actually welcomed by me, especially after seeing so much digital noise reduction and edge enhancement being applied to recent Blu-ray releases.  The film has a very natural look.  There is very little in way of color saturation.  The black levels are stable, but the shadow delineation leaves something to be desired.  The overall image is very flat.  This is a better transfer than most films of its age.

The audio track is also decent for the age of the film.  The Blu-ray gives us a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track.  As should be expected for the time period and type of film, there is not much in the way of surround presence.  About the only time that they are present is during the festival at Gobbler’s Knob.  There is some other ambience present in the rears at other points in the film.  The dialogue is intelligible and always audible.  It is anchored to the center channel.  The stereo field in the front is wide and quite inviting.  The LFE channel does have much to do, but it is present more than most romantic comedies.  The dynamic range is probably the best part of this high-resolution audio track.  The audio reaches nicely across the spectrum.  Not much in the way of an upgrade, but it is still a good representation of the original production audio and sound design.

Sony gives us a decent amount of bonus materials, all of which were present on previous SD DVD releases.  First there is an audio commentary with director Harold Ramis.  The commentary is somewhat disappointing.  The track became boring rather quickly.  There is not much to be gained from listening to this track.  Next, “The Weight of Time” is the primary featurette, which contains interviews with Ramis and cast members.  “Study of Groundhogs: A Real-life Look at Marmots” is a just what the title says, a look at the life of groundhogs.  Snooze.  Lastly, there are some deleted scenes and an alternate ending.  Exclusive to the Blu-ray is “Needle Nose Ned’s Picture In Picture” track.  Actor Stephen Tobolowsky hosts this track, which is more of a trivia track.  Finally, the disc is BD-Live enabled.

“Groundhog Day” is great fun and should most definitely be added to your collection.  The video and audio is nothing special, but will offer an upgrade over that old and dusty SD DVD copy.

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