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.