That’s unfair. I don’t hate romantic comedies at all. I just hate almost any American romantic comedy made, say, in the past 10 or 15 years. You know the kind I mean: Two attractive quirky people meet-cute and then go through a bunch of crazy misunderstandings before realizing they are right for each other after all. They are usually helped to this epiphany by the grossness of their zany friends, who, in the absence of decent writing, tend to exercise bodily functions at hilariously inappropriate times.
Yeah, I hate those. I’m sure Silver Linings Playbook is nothing like that, and I do intend to see it as soon as I can. But the exchange got me thinking about other romantic comedies I liked. One title came right to mind: Groundhog Day.
Talk about great timing. Groundhog Day the movie turns 20 this year, and Groundhog Day the holiday is tomorrow. Trust me: there will never be a better time to check it out — whether you’ve seen it a dozen times like I have, or have yet to see it at all.
Like a lot of classic movies, Groundhog Day opened to tepid reviews. It was just a pleasant, run-of-the-mill comedy when Roger Ebert first saw it in 1993; twelve years later he was calling it a work of genius. I agree with the 2005 Ebert. This is Bill Murray at the height of his powers, in a role written with only him in mind. Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliott are pretty good too. In fact, maybe they’ve never been better.
In every life there are a lot of days we’d like to do over, and keep doing over until we get them right. Groundhog Day imagines how that might play out. More subtly, it’s a reminder that every day’s improvable, and that who you are is nothing more than the sum of all the days and decisions that went before.
Or something like that. The point is, you should try to do the right thing. And definitely continue with those piano lessons. It’ll help you get the girl.
I’d put Groundhog Day in maybe the top 25 movies of all time. It’s as American as it gets, it’s definitely romantic, and it’s definitely a comedy. Never let it be said that I despise the genre. I just despise the bad examples.
John H. says
I like Groundhog Day, but wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again. That’s probably more about Bill Murray than the movie itself. For me, a little bit of Bill goes a long way.
I just looked, and AFI’s top ten rom coms include Annie Hall (I agree) and Harold and Maude. I like Harold and Maude a lot, but is it really a rom com?
Dave Knadler says
If it is a rom-com, it certainly doesn’t follow the formula. I find Harold and Maude kind of tough to watch, for some reason.
John H. says
I’ve seen H&M 2 or 3 times, but I admit it’s been probably 20 years since I last watched it. I mainly remember how much I liked the dark humor, and the outrage of all the authority figures at their relationship. I remember one in particular (the priest?) choking out the word “comingling”. My favorite line is when the psychiatrist asks Harold if his fake suicides are all for his mother’s benefit. Harold replies, “I wouldn’t say ‘benefit’.” Now that I think of it again, Maude is a variation on what’s now known as the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”
Great post Dave. I love the movie “Groundhog Day.” I bought it on DVD a few years ago and we watch it nearly every year around Groundhog Day. You’ve inspired us to watch it tomorrow night for date-night. Like you, it always makes me think about the many do-over days in my life (and at this point, it would be the guitar that I’d be playing instead of piano!).
Dave Knadler says
I’m going to have to buy it too. Stupid Netflix had it available for streaming, and then pulled it just two days ago — right when a lot of people might want to watch it. People like me.
Netflix is dead to me. One of my do-overs would be canceling the service two years ago.