We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I’m a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself.
This week’s #WayBackWednesday is a special one. Our world is in chaos. It can be hard to take everything in and to know how to help. Nostalgia offers an escape for many, but it can also be a way to process thoughts and emotions in a healthy manner. This week’s film does that for me. I hope it does for you, too. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.
Groundhog Day was a film I missed growing up. However, it was always a favorite of my husband’s. When he heard I’d not seen it, he made sure to rectify the situation post haste. Watch the trailer for Groundhog Day and we’ll get started.
Groundhog Day is a comedy with heart, which in my opinion is the best sort of comedy. Phil, a weatherman (played by Bill Murray) is a self-absorbed, egotistical jerk, and that’s putting it mildly. When he’s sent to cover the Groundhog Day celebrations in Punxsutawney, PA, along with his producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell), and cameraman, Larry (Chris Eliott), he’s in for much more than an overnight trip. Stuck in a time loop, Phil seems forever doomed to repeat the same day until kingdom come, and he’s the only one who seems to notice.
The film isn’t short on laughs, but it balances those laughs with some serious heart. Phil shifts from acting on his most self-indulgent, and frankly evil impulses to where those impulses ultimately lead–self-destruction. With a fresh start each day, Phil is absolved of the previous day’s sins and begins again, and also begins to have a change of heart.
While I’ll spare most of the details of Phil’s re-education, as I believe it’s worth watching for yourself, what I appreciate the most about Groundhog Day is that Phil’s transformation begins when he learns to listen. When he assumes the posture of a listener, his heart changes. He begins to consider others better than himself. And even when he thinks he gets it right, he learns that he still has more work to do–the process of learning to care for others is ongoing.
While I aim to keep my reviews spoiler-free, I think perhaps during this time, it’s important to highlight what I believe to be the real turn in Phil’s story. If you’d prefer to watch the film unbesmirched, skip the next paragraph. Otherwise, keep reading.
Phil, on one of his many repeats of Groundhog Day, takes note of a homeless man on a street corner. On two occasions, the homeless man dies, even with Phil’s intervention. Phil feels helpless, even though he has intervened to try to help the man, his powerlessness in this situation is shattering for him. This change, recognizing his own failings and how he may be powerless to prevent this awful thing is humbling for him. But yet, he chooses to persist. He continues to try to do the right thing, not just by this man, but also by everyone else with whom he comes into contact. However, this change would not exist without Phil beginning to listen to others and observe his surroundings. He begins to use the power he has to better the world around him. Even when he can’t actively change a situation, he tries. The act of listening and making an effort to do and be better is monumental. That is a lesson worth learning and remembering daily, especially now.
If you’re looking for a comedy that offers more than just a laugh, consider Groundhog Day.
Groundhog Day is streaming now on Netflix.