' ' Cinema Romantico: Re-Living Groundhog Day

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Re-Living Groundhog Day

I never give Bill Murray his proper due. Oh, I've acknowledged and lauded the brilliance that is Murray, Bill but I don't think I have ever admitted or even really considered his role in my movie-watching life.

First Movie Poster On My Wall: "Ghostbusters."

Movie I Most Consistently Watch When I'm Lonely And/Or Gloomy With The State Of The World: "Lost In Translation."

First Transcendent Movie Theater Experience: "Groundhog Day."

Yesterday, as you may have heard, Chicago was blanketed with roughly 72 inches of snow which resulted in my first Snow Day in......I have no idea, really. Years and years. Therefore I spent the entire day in soft pants (i.e. pajama pants), went through a pot of coffee and treated myself to a three-movie-marathon. Joy to the world. The third film in my marathon was, naturally, considering it was February 2nd, Harold Ramis's comedy masterpiece "Groundhog Day."

This is not a review of the film, not at all, since essentially everyone knows the basics - namely, that Bill Murray's TV weatherman Phil Connors is forced to live Groundhog Day over and over and over, etc. My esteemed colleague Castor at Anomalous Material had a fine review a few months back if you require a refresher.  (Although I should mention this was the first time I ever realized the just married guy Phil gives the Wrestlemania tickets to near the end is played by an exceptionally young......wait for it......Michael Shannon. That makes two Oscar nominees in the "Groundhog Day" cast.)

As I watched it last night I found myself getting all nostalgic (who, me?) about the first time I watched it way back when it was first released into movie theaters in February 1993. At the time I was a freshman in high school and my first encounter with "Last of the Mohicans" was still several months away. My parents decided that one Friday evening my younger sister and I would be joining them for dinner and a movie - specifically, "Groundhog Day" at the now-deceased Westwood 6. I, of course, wanted no part of such an event. I was in high school, damn it, I was too cool for this s---. I didn't have time to be cold chillin' with my parental units on a Friday. Are you kidding me? Me and my homeys Jacob and Kris had places to be and things to do. (None of us could drive then so, in actuality, we had nowhere to be and nothing to do, but that's not the point.) I pouted. I can even remember eating dinner that night and our waitress being just a couple years older than me and slightly striking and, thus, me becoming concerned that my parents were blowing up my spot even though I had no spot for them to blow up and have likely never had a spot for anyone else to blow up since. I just wanted to go back home and sulk with some Tribe.

We arrived at the Westwood 6 and settled into our seats and, frankly, I was still acting like most moronic male freshmen in high school do. The lights dimmed and the movie started and at first I was intent on not enjoying this movie whatever the cost. I had a point to prove. Or something. But then Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliot arrived in Punxsutawney and Bill Murray left his hotel room that morning and ran into that guy at the top of the stairs and the guy asks "Do you think it'll be an early spring?" and Bill Murray says "I'm predicting March 21" and then the guy says, seriously, "Good guess - I think that actually is the first day of spring" and, well, I laughed. Okay? What did you want from me? It was funny. Like, super funny. And then Bill Murray had to deal with the woman that ran the bed & breakfast - "Did you want to talk about the weather or just chit chat?" - and then he had to deal with that damned Ned Ryerson on the street and......you get the point, right? I laughed. And laughed. And laughed. I howled when Bill Murray wondered if it was "too early for flapjacks?" I completely lost it seeing that shot of Bill Murray drinking straight from the coffee pot. And, yeah, I felt my heartstrings get tugged there at the end. How could I not? I was an idiot, not a monster.

All I could think - all my whole family could think - at its end was, "Great movie. Great movie." (It also prompted my mom to proclaim something to the effect of "If Bill Murray doesn't win the Oscar, so help me God......" which makes it quite clear why I feel the need upon seeing something like, say, "Black Swan" to immediately proclaim to anyone who does or does not care to listen, "If Natalie Portman doesn't win the Oscar, so help me God......")

I was being a whiny prick and "Groundhog Day" made me sit up and smile and think "Nick, you're being a whiny prick. Knock it off. Life is short, moron. Stop being immature. Enjoy this movie." And I did. I'd enjoyed movies in the theater, sure, but I'm quite certain none had ever before displayed their very real power to transcend the circumstances surrounding them quite like that one. An amazing night. Sorry for being stupid, Mom and Dad, and thank you so much. If you hadn't dragged me to that movie......nope. No alternate endings. I like this ending just fine.

"When Chekhov saw the long winter he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter." - Phil Connors


Castor said...

Beautiful post sir! That's all I have to say.

Rory Larry said...

You didn't have a spot with the waitress because you didn't order thousand island dressing

Nick Prigge said...

Castor: Thanks for the kind words. I love it when movies conjure up beautiful, old memories.

Rory: Ahhhh! Is that why Sienna Miller won't return my calls? Because I forgot one of the most essential secrets of the universe?

Derek Armstrong said...

I also have nothing to say, except that this reminds me of when I saw Ghost with my mom on a trip where we were touring colleges. I don't remember rebelling against the circumstances, but I do think that I was probably embarrassed to be all leaky-eyed in the presence of my mother.