"Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."
And that's the fifth one down, everybody. I'm actually really surprised that I'm able to keep up with these movies! I feel like as I go through this project, I'm starting to notice specifically worded lines in movies or scenes that are lighted to match a certain mood. I'm not sure if this is a bad thing that I'm analyzing movies so much when I watch them, haha.
Keeping with the theme of the movies with some of the best scripts around, I chose to watch Groundhog Day this week. The screenplay to this movie was written by Danny Rubin and Director Harold Ramis (Ramis worked alongside Murray on Ghostbusters). The script is filled with classic and super quotable humor. Have a look for yourself and check out the script here.
Click HERE for Groundhog Day Summary
The premise of Groundhog Day is versatile, someone could go a thousand different directions with the idea. A person is forced to relive the same day for an indefinite amount of time. That gives you an infinite amount of possibilities, and just with that idea I'm already in. But there's something special about Groundhog Day.
It's a comedy for the most part, but it's also a drama. And a little bit fantasy. And a romance? One of the best parts of this movie is how much it brings to the table. And somehow, with all these different emotions and elements, the movie still works. I think it works because everything feels natural, and everything makes sense (given the extraordinary situation). When Phil (played amazingly by Bill Murray) decides to learn about an attractive woman in order to get her to like him, it's understandable. Sure, it's manipulative, but his behavior makes sense. When he starts his downward spiral after reliving the same day for way too long, it makes sense. His progression as a character is so intriguing to watch. The character Phil is just interesting in general. He's this disgruntled reporter who's been waiting for a break, and he's never got one. After years of being sub par, he has become cynical and jaded. Honestly, Phil is kind of a schmuck. But when the audience sees him go through the same day, we see how he deals with things, and how he starts to take advantage of his situation. We soon start to really love Phil, with all his sarcasm. And his sarcasm and jokes were one of the best parts of the movie. The jokes in Groundhog Day changes from being subtle one liners to completely in your face slapstick comedy. No matter what joke they told, it hit. The jokes never felt out of place or shoved in just to remind the audience "hey this is a comedy remember?". The flow of the movie was very good. Along with all of the funny moments, there were the more serious moments. It's incredible how well this movie handles emotion. Although Phil stays his joking self throughout the whole movie, we still sense his desperation. The whole sequence with him trying to kill himself is comedic, but still very morbid. When he tries to convince Rita (Andie MacDowell) that he's living the same day, we want her to believe him so badly. Because we feel how tired he is. We feel that he's lonely and sad and frustrated. When he spends time with Rita, we see how romantic Phil actually is. The schmuck turns into a really endearing guy. And when he finally gets his happy ending, with the person that he loves in a new day, I felt genuinely happy for him.
"The film's timelessness can be attributed partly to its classical redemptive narrative, which has echoes of A Christmas Carol. "The redemption plot is one of the oldest story shapes," says Peter Baynham, the Day Today and Brass Eye writer whose script credits include Borat, Arthur Christmas and the forthcoming Alan Partridge: The Movie. 'With so many movies, especially comedies, you can see the bones sticking out – you can see what they're trying to do. But Groundhog Day is such a clever, wonderful ride that you don't notice the joins. It's rare for a comedy to be funny and profound but also popular. Films such as Groundhog Day and Back to the Future sold a lot of popcorn, but they were insanely smart too. That's very inspiring when you're sitting there trying to write a comedy screenplay. Groundhog Day is living proof that it's possible to create intelligent comedy that still has a broad appeal.'" -Ryan Gilbey
Bill Murray's portrayal of Phil makes this movie. If it was any other actor, there might've been a hate towards his arrogant character at first, but Murray's perfect timing and deadpan delivery give Phil a certain type of charm that is undeniably appealing.
This is a pretty simple and passing example of how the comedy in this movie is like. You might think this joke is silly, but I laughed way too hard at this. I loved the gags in this movie.
I gave an example of a funny moment, now here's a heartbreaking one. Phil sees an old homeless man every day outside the diner, asking for money. He constantly refuses to give him money, or just ignores him. One day, he gives him money and sees him later at night, cold and hungry. Phil takes him to a hospital to get him better, and learns from a nurse that the old man passes away. Phil makes it his mission to make sure that the old man stays alive, and treats him to a huge meal indoors. Phil tries hard to keep the man alive, but no matter what, he dies. This sequence moved me to tears. In the middle of this already eventful movie, Ramis manages to sneak in a tragic short story about death.
The full quote from the movie here is "I think you're the kindest, sweetest, prettiest person I've ever met in my life. I've never seen anyone that's nicer to people than you are. The first time I saw you... something happened to me. I never told you but... I knew that I wanted to hold you as hard as I could. I don't deserve someone like you. But if I ever could, I swear I would love you for the rest of my life." Phil says this to Rita as she's drifting off to sleep, after he's spent a day(s) with her. This monologue was so sweet and so Phil that when I watched it I couldn't help but "aww" over it.
Usually here, I would leave a memorable scene from the movie. But as I was searching for clips, I found this one of a deleted scene, right after Phil witnesses the old homeless man die again. I really wish they would've put this into the movie because there's a sadness in this short scene that adds a little more to Phil's character.
"Every night, by cold bricks glow, I watch the shadow rising from this old man in the snow. At 8:02, we let it go."
This should go without saying.
Kelby Custodio, Junior at Pacifica High School.