Phil is a jaded weather man who really hates his job. When he is paired up with producer Rita and forced to go produce a segment on the famous Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil to see if he sees his shadow…well, Phil ain’t happy. He is annoyed by Rita’s bubbly personality. He is annoyed by the townspeople. He is annoyed by his lodging conditions. Phil is bitter and cynical.
But things take an unexpected turn for Phil when he finds himself having to live the same day over and over.
At first he fights it, then he gives up…and then he decides to embrace it. A lot of the humor comes from his first two stages as he randomly kills himself and finds ways to amuse himself.
Rita and their camera man Larry are constantly questioning his sanity for good reason. Of course, when Phil fully embraces things, the film becomes more sentimental as Phil uses his days to learn to play piano, become artistic and more…troubling…learn about Rita so he can win her heart. The Pop Culture Detective has an excellent video that talks about the problems here…and the notion of Rita falling totally in love with Phil in one day seems odd if you really think about it. Only Phil is aware of the time loop…only he is directly experiencing it.
That said, I still do enjoy this film. Ramis and Murray have a synergy that goes back years, and it is on display here. There is plenty of absurd fun, and this is certainly one of those characters Murray excelled at playing over the years. Even though I think there are story problems, Groundhog Day is still quite a bit of silly fun.