Groundhog Day (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I love “Groundhog Day”, both the movie and the holiday itself. Why the holiday itself you ask? Well, purely selfish reasons as it’s the day that follows my birthday. Yep, I’m that shallow. And how can you not love a holiday that worships a groundhog which predicts the weather patterns predicated upon the fact that he (or she) sees a shadow? Amazing. Back in 1993 director Haorld Ramis (who directed my all-time favorite movie, “Caddyshack”) cast his buddy Bill Murray in a nice little comedy called “Groundhog Day”. The movie was an instant success and, sixteen years later; it’s just as popular as it ever was. Why? Well, the theme hits on something that a lot of people can identify with; as Ramis states in the included documentary. Think about it, how different would your life be if you could go back and redo the same day of your life with the knowledge you’d aquired? Maybe you make a left turn instead of a right, maybe you quit your job maybe you go skydiving? The possibilities are endless and such is the central theme of “Groundhog Day.”

Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is a Pittsburgh weatherman with aspirations of making it on a “real” network. He’s selfish, aloof and arrogant but has bee assigned to cover the Groundhog Day festival in Pauxatauny, PA. He goes through the motions, does his story and as they try to get back to Pittsburgh find out they’re stuck for the night in Pauxatauny. And then, it happens…Phil awakens to find that he’s reliving the same day of his life over and over and over again. What seems like a cruel joke at first actually makes Phil realize that there are other people out there who might need help. We see the more humorous side of this predicament but as the movie progresses we see Phil begin to change. Can Phil truly become a better man with this once in a lifetime gift or is he destined to end up alone, having never learned the true lessons in life?

I love“Groundhog Day” and I know I started out this review by stating that as well. I can remember the first time I saw it in the theater and about halfway through realized I didn’t want the movie to end. The movie has such limitless possibilities and Bill Murray is perfect for the part. The movie was a modest success back in early 1993, grossing over $70 million (quite a feat for a movie released early in the year) and only continues to grow with age. Harold Ramis also states in his interview that this movie was chosen as the film most likely to have any impact on society 100 years from now. While I don’t know if that’s all together true, it does hit on the fact that the film has a very broad appeal. If you’ve never seen “Groundhog Day” you owe it to yourself to give it a view and as for me, this Blu-ray will have a permanent home on my shelf.

Video: How does it look?

“Groundhog Day” is presented in Blu-ray with the included 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer that looks pretty good after fifteen years. I did notice a bit of grain on some of the daytime shots and a few scenes seem to be a bit soft, but by and large I was generally impressed with how this looks. A majority of Sony’s catalog titles tend to look good and though Blu-ray can’t make every single movie look like it was made yesterday, there is a definite bump up in picture quality. Fans should be happy with the way this looks, but there’s room for improvement to be sure.

Audio: How does it sound?

A Dolby TrueHD soundtrack replaces the Dolby Digital soundtrack from the previous standard edition DVD, but this movie really doesn’t rely on audio all too much. Fans of Sonny and Cher’s “I’ve got you, babe” will recognize the recurring segment played throughout and it sounds as good as it can all things considered. Dialogue is very clean and there really weren’t a lot of opportunities for the surrounds to kick in, though I heard some murmurs form time to time. Like the video, the audio simply isn’t really that important but “Groundhog Day” sounds as good as it looks.

Supplements: What are the extras?

“Groundhog Day” was released as a special edition standard DVD several years back and this Blu-ray version has those included supplements and has even added a few. The commentary track by Harold Ramis is still there and though there are some dry spots, he does give a pretty insightful commentary (did anyone know that Phil was supposedly repeating the same day for around 20 years?). Some Blu-ray features are used with “Needle Nose Ned’s picture-in-picture track” which tends to grate on the nerves after only a few minutes. It’s not so much a “picture-in-picture” as he just kind of pops up adding some facts here and there. If you factor out the annoying nature of it, it’s got some pretty interesting information. Next up are six deleted scenes and a featurette on real groundhogs entitled “The Study of Groundhogs: A Real Life Look at Marmots” which has perhaps the most information on groundhogs that I’ve ever seen. Lastly are two featurettes “The Weight of Time” which was present on the original DVD and a new interview with Harold Ramis entitled “A Different Day: An Interview with Harold Ramis”. This runs about ten minutes and is full of information about the film, the reaction to it fifteen years later and a look back at the past (and future) of “Groundhog Day” a good featurette.

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