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Groundhog Day

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 97 mins . PG . PAL


I love a good comedy. Sadly, there aren't that many around. All too often I've sat through a long, patchy film with a couple of good belly laughs (There's Something About Mary is a fine example).

Which conveniently leads me to Groundhog Day, one of the most inventive comedies of the last decade, and in my book, probably the best. A witty script combined with good performances made for a strong showing at the boxoffice, so it's disappointing that Columbia didn't make more of an effort with this disc.

Bill Murray is Phil Connors, a cynical, self-absorbed Pittsburgh weatherman sent (yet again) to the small town of Punxatawney to cover the traditional annual Groundhog Day celebration. Joining him is Andie MacDowell as Rita, his producer. A blizzard forces the news team to stay in Punxatawney overnight, much to Phil's disgust, but his life is about to get a whole lot stranger.

Waking up the next morning, Phil finds himself reliving Groundhog Day, over and over again. As nothing he does to other people has any lasting effect, he is forced to improve himself and learns that to win the love of a good woman, he has to become a decent man.

What makes the film a winner for me is that it's not afraid to explore every path - Phil uses his situation to chat up women, steal money and fool Rita with their apparently shared interests, but you also see his frustration, despair and eventual suicide attempts. I admire the script because it is deadly serious within a fantastical context, which isn't easy to pull off. Screenwriters Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis do it with ease.


Video is fairly unremarkable. Sharpness varies, generally being quite good, but images are a little soft in some scenes. Blacks aren't as deep as I'd like, but shadow detail is fine. The colour seemed natural enough, though not reference quality. I noticed no MPEG artifacts, and aliasing is also not a problem.

To be honest, the film is entertaining enough to make me forget to watch the video critically, but I doubt anybody would be disappointed here.


Groundhog Day was released around the time that discrete digital soundtracks were beginning to creep cautiously into the theatre. Sadly, it never received a 5.1 mix, and the soundtrack does sound dated.

The audio is generally focused on the centre channel, as the film is quite dialogue-heavy. While the score is well-recorded, the Pro-Logic encoding tends to collapse the sound to the centre, as all Pro-Logic tracks do to some degree. The surrounds are used mildly, never drawing attention to themselves throughout the film.

Dialogue is clear and easily intelligible, though I detected one point where Bill Murray is shouting in a car and you can hear the dialogue and score tussling. A discrete mix would have helped here, but I've heard worse cases of Pro-Logic compromising mixes.

Being a fairly recent film, you won't notice any hiss, hum or distortion, and the audio is smooth at reference level.


Here's where I wish Columbia had gone to some effort. I found Harold Ramis's commentary to their Ghostbusters disc to be hilarious, but all we get here is a trailer and a cast & crew filmography. Darn.


A great film with an average presentation still beats Deep Blue Sea, but you and I know what's being bought.

Oh well.

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