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?
This film might seem an odd choice to get the “4K treatment”, but it certainly does benefit from a new transfer. While it’s never looked bad, per se, there was a bit more background noise in some of the scenes on the Blu-ray (also included with this package). The new 1.85:1 HEVC 4K image eliminates all of that (literally) and gives us a very pleasing, smooth and downright amazing-looking image. I’m sure that the choice to release this on Ultra HD has a few scratching their heads and I assure you it’s more about marketing than giving us a good-looking picture (though that’s a very positive side effect). Colors are more stable, black levels and contrast on the mark and the HDR give us a more pleasing picture. It’s a definite step up.
Audio: How does it sound?
We also get a new Dolby Atmos soundtrack and unless you’re a fan of Sonny and Cher’s “I’ve got you, babe” that you feel will need to be heard in atmospheric sound, it’s not a huge improvement. Yes, there are some upticks here and there and 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.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The new 4K disc contains no supplements and, unfortunately, there have been no new supplements produced (even with this touted as the “25th Anniversary Edition”). I guess they felt that there were enough supplements on the 2008 “15th Anniversary Edition”. Nevertheless, here’s what to expect:
Audio Commentary – This is the same track that’s appeared on the other versions, but Ramis gives a good track. 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?
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 the film.
The Weight of Time – This 2002 feature is a 25 minute documentary on the making of the film. It’s nearly 15 years old itself, but still a good look at the film.
The Study of Groundhogs: A Real Life Look at Marmots – If you’ve ever wanted to know all there is to know about your little furry friends who are relevant on Feb. 2, look no further.
Needle Nose Ned’s Picture-in-Picture Track – 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
The Bottom Line
At 25 years old, I can still remember the day I saw it in theaters and, even then, loving it. This epitomizes what it’s like to come up with an original, though-provoking comedy that will be looked at years from now as good as it was in 1993. Sony’s 4K gives the film new life and though the lack of any new supplements is disappointing, those waiting for the 4K will be in for a treat.