24 March 2014

It's Groundhog Day!!



The sound of my morning alarm would wake me up and then, as usual, it'd all be downhill from there. Being unemployed was possibly the worst period of my life with each day following the same shitty cycle as the last. Beyond the ritualistic combination of wanking and crying, the only other thing to do was apply for jobs with each failed attempt being like a kitchen knife to the horcrux. I'd send off cover letters, re-write c.v.’s, attend various open days and phone people up but it all felt like it was to no avail. Applying for jobs feels about as productive as using a sharpened turd to write the word 'help' on some bog roll before flushing it into the sewers and hoping for the existence of The Poop Fairy. Being employed isn't exactly peaches either but at least you now have some sense of self-worth and a few extra pennies to help block out the banality of our pointless fucking lives. When you're unemployed, not only can you not afford to go out but nor can you afford the suicidal cocktail of hardcore drugs that are essential to remaining sane when trapped between four bastard walls. At least in a job you've got your time off to look forward to but if you don't have any work to begin with then the days just merge into one depressing, limbo-like half-life. The only true way to acknowledge the passing of time is to carefully measure the increasing collection of piss samples that are kept brewing in a jar on the window-sill. Not having a job really is shit. Not having a job really is the closest you can get to Groundhog Day.  

As if it was all planned in advance, this neatly brings me to the film we'll be discussing in this blog... shock, motherfucking-horror, it's only bloody Groundhog Day!!! For any philistines who've yet to see this movie I'll summarise the plot, although seriously you need to just drop everything and watch it now because it's just that damn good. Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a Weatherman who some might consider a little self-obsessed and who others might simply dismiss as being a bastard. He's not the only Phil though as by coincidence he shares his name with a small Groundhog that's used by the locals of Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania to predict the weather. Every February 2nd, people gather around the overinflated rat with tradition suggesting that if the furry fucker sees its shadow then there'll be six more weeks of winter. Because nothing boosts a person’s confidence like seeing an under-qualified rodent bluff its way through your career, Phil the Weatherman is sent to report a news story on it. He gets through the day, goes to bed and wakes up the next morning to mysteriously find out that he's about to live the exact same thing all over again. This happens over and over and over with Phil unexpectedly trapped in some weird time loop that forces him to continually relive the same twenty-four hours which were sadly quite shit to begin with. What a kick in the bollocks!

If there isn't at least one thing in this image that appeals to you,
then we have nothing in common.
Anyway, so many people have compared this film to things like It's A Wonderful Life or even A Christmas Carol with each involving supernatural forces teaching a man that he's a miserable cock-end. In my opinion though, Groundhog Day is better than both simply due to the fact that they're  severely lacking in the Bill Murray department. As the film progresses, Phil slowly changes his ways, realising that in a consequence free eternity, the only true satisfaction can come through complete selflessness. Ironically though, this became a career changer for the real Murray too with it acting as a kind of transitional film from his sillier, slapstick, films to his more subdued and artsy type stuff. Personally, Murray is one of my absolute heroes with his world weariness being something that my misanthropic self can easily relate to. Whereas some comedians get laughs from being over the top and attention seeky, Murray is the exact opposite instead adopting a persona that suggests he's already bored with all of life’s bullshit. There's more laughs to be had from him here from just one unimpressed look than there's ever been in the entirety of somebody as shit and annoying as Chris Tucker’s entire cinematic output.

However, Murray isn't the films sole asset with its ambiguous, relatively broad set-up possibly being its second greatest weapon. There's a theory floating about out there suggesting that our favourite films are those in which our personal baggage is most effectively reflected back at us. An example of this might be seen in Room 237 which is a documentary looking at The Shining and the various theories that some unhinged fans have decided that it is actually about. One person thought it was about the genocide of the Native Americans, another thought it was a re-telling of the Minotaur story and another thought it was Kubrick's way of admitting he faked the moon landings. None of them are wrong in their readings however each theory really tells more about those specific people than the film itself and it turns out they're all demented fuck-nuggets. Groundhog Day is open enough that almost anybody can relate to it because, let’s face it, who doesn't have an aspect of their life that they feel is going nowhere. As I mentioned earlier, it's unemployment that I was most reminded of whilst watching it but I reckon it could honestly be applied to pretty much anything. Do you have a partner with whom you feel things are getting a bit samey as they roll away from you with yet another headache? As you secretly try and toss yourself off without waking them up for the hundredth time in a row, you might think to yourself, “for fucks sake this is just like Groundhog Day”. You could even be somebody a bit more out of the normal like a serial killer for example... I'm sure when somebody has strangled a good few prostitutes, things must eventually get a bit repetitive for them and let’s face it, they probably only started their spree in the first place as a response to their own dull lives.

So not only does this film have the comic genius of Bill Murray at the centre of it but it also has a story that's relatable to every kind of person, whether it is a rejected lover or a woman-hating fuckhead. Even the Buddhists bone off it with the films central message of selflessness and rebirth being fairly close to their own message of spirituality. I guess the film is saying that if things have started to get a bit dull then you need to investigate your inner-self rather than just relying on a change in external forces. To be honest, I kind of agree. So is this film a masterpiece? Well it's certainly one of my all time favourites and one that I very much love but sadly I don't think it's quite flawless. If it's ninety-nine percent perfect then I think that one percent anomaly would look something like the grinning face of Andie MacDowell. For a start, the fact that she's even in the film is annoying because to me she's that woman whose spent the last two decades trying to flog me cosmetic products in crap adverts for shampoo and anti-wrinkle cream. It takes her no less than thirty seconds to get on my tits in them as it is and so a full on feature film with her is taking the absolute piss.

News just in! Andie McDowell is shit!
I mean, this could well be a thing that's personal to me and maybe other people think she's really great but I just find her so annoying. I'm not even saying she's a bad actress but just that she does my fucking head in. There's that line in Four Weddings and a Funeral where she says “Is it still raining? I hadn't noticed”, but the thing is, as shit as that is, I kind of believe her when she says it. With that accent and her confused expression, she seems like the type of dullard that wouldn't notice the same kind of things as us more self-aware and sentient beings. I dunno... in Groundhog Day, there's an annoying kind of superiority thing going on as though her character thinks she's better than everybody else. This would be fine if we were meant to dislike her but we're not and as a result I just find it so unbelievable that Murray's character would spend so much time falling in love with her. As a result of her performance, I just can't buy into that central romance which is kind of key part of the film. I was told by my last girlfriend that my heart had been replaced with a brick on some rope however that's no excuse here as I did love Murray and Johansson in Lost in Translation. I think there's just something about Andie MacDowell that's really irritating and kind of makes me want to die.

I guess it's another testament to the film that even though I struggle with its romantic subplot, I still love it. I watched it again recently due to the sad death of director Harold Ramis although if it's any consolation it seems fairly definite that his film will long be remembered after we've all also kicked the bucket. I mean, how many films can claim that their title has become a short hand for something in the way that Groundhog Day now refers to being stuck in a rut. Well I guess Forrest Gump has become a handy insult for disabled people and “It was like Deliverance” usually refers to when you thought you were going to get gay-raped... But those probably aren't things that the makers tend to brag about. Groundhog Day is just great with a fun concept, a brilliant central performance and apparently a universally praised moral at the centre of it. Being unemployed was like having a bag of ice rest on my balls in that it was dull, uncomfortable and I just wanted it to be over but if there's anything I don't think I'll ever get bored of it is, ironically, this film. Groundhog Day is an institution and something that everybody should see. Feel good films can sometimes be a bit annoying for somebody like me but I think I can certainly get on bored with one in which a man repeatedly succeeds in killing himself only to wake up alive the next morning and exclaim, “Ah nuts”. Fuck you world, and thanks for reading.

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