The premise of the romantic comedy Groundhog Day is essentially ‘if you had to do it over again – and again – what would you do differently?’ The film is inconsistent in tone and pace; fortunately the pay-off works, bringing some much needed warmth to the area.
Bill Murray, a cynical TV weatherman, finds himself stuck in a private, repetitious hell: Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pa, where he has come for the annual festivities. The day begins, over and over, at 6 a.m., Sonny & Cher on the clock radio, and moves on almost invariably, as Murray undergoes every conceivable emotional permutation – from confusion to anger to cockiness to despair – finally thawing into a beneficent soul.
The situation [from an original story by Danny Rubin] is ripe with comic potential but script provides more chuckles than belly laughs. Some sequences are crisply paced and comically terse, some ramble and others just plain don’t work.
Murray’s weatherman is tailor-made for his smug screen persona, perhaps too much so. Of the supporting players, Stephen Tobolowsky is hilarious in a loose-limbed turn as Murray’s cloying ex-schoolmate.