Groundhog Day is a clever 1993 fantasy starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. It was written and directed by Harold Ramis. It is now acknowledged to have been underestimated when it was first released, and its stature has grown over the years. It is the Bear's favorite movie, and might be Pope Francis', too, if he ever saw it.
Bill Murray plays an obnoxious weatherman ("the talent") who is sent to cover Groundhog Day in Punxutawney, Pennsylvania, an assignment he feels is beneath him, and refuses to take seriously. He is abusive toward his cameraman and producer, and unpleasant toward everyone whom he meets. His bad day is turned into a disaster by a snowstorm that traps him in Punxutawney.
The next morning, the clock radio blares Sonny and Cher singing "I Got You Babe." The announcer's patter is identical to the previous morning. Soon Murray is forced to admit that he is stuck in Groundhog Day, being madly awakened every morning by Sonny and Cher and experiencing the same sequence of events.
It is not clear how long Murry is trapped in Groundhog Day. But it is long enough to learn just about everything about everybody in the town. At first he puts the knowledge to evil use, stealing from an armored car while the crew is distracted, seducing a woman, etc.
Eventually, he grows jaded by his hedonistic pursuits, and repeatedly tries to commit suicide, in sometimes impressive ways. But the next morning, the radio blares "I Got You Babe" and he must live the same day again. He is a broken record, repeating the same meaningless phrase over and over. What had seemed to offer so many possibilities has become Hell, or at least an endless meditation on the Book of Ecclesiastes.
And I applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.(Ecclesiastes 1:13-14 RSV)
Inevitably, he turns his romantic intentions toward Andie MacDowell, who plays his producer. But he still doesn't get it. He uses his infinite time and patience to study her, to learn everything about her, so he can impress her with their common interests. But she smells a rat. There are some things you can't fake, no matter how many do-overs you get. The more desperate he becomes, the further she drifts away from him.
A turning point comes when he goes to "the periphery" and tries to save the life of a very sick homeless man. Despite all his efforts, the old guy dies on him. Every time. But, surely, there is some good he can accomplish?
He improves himself, for example learning to play the piano. After one lesson on countless days -- or, rather, countless lessons on the same day -- he becomes a virtuoso (much to his teacher's surprise, since for her it is his first lesson).
Murray is transformed into a genuinely nice guy, more interested in helping others than pursuing MacDowell, whom he seems to forget. For example, instead of his previous sarcastic reports on the groundhog, he delivers a lyrical meditation on winter, quoting Chekov, and enthralling all the other news crews.
He becomes the town's guardian angel, knowing just where and when to fix flats and save lives. Eventually, by the end of each day, he is a local celebrity, loved by all.
The the premise is brilliant, the writing is witty, MacDowell is winsome, and Murray is in top form as he slowly transforms from a self-centered jerk to a likable servant. It's also very funny.
The Bear adds this to his list of Catholic-friendly movies. It is well worth a watch.