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GROUNDHOG DAY ($35) is the funniest, most romantic and charming fantasy film to come down the road in some time. Fantasy film are few to begin with, but fantasy films of this caliber are truly rare. The last fantasy film that was this satisfying and winning was DEFENDING YOU LIFE.

Bill Murray stars as Phil Connors, an obnoxious television weatherman, whose annual assignment to cover Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. This is one assignment that Phil truly hates. Phil's day covering the Groundhog Day festivities goes as expected until a sudden blizzard, which he failed to predict, forces him to stay in Punxsutawney for another night. The next morning, when Phil awakes he discovers that it again February 2nd- Groundhog Day. Phil soon discovers that he is the only one who remembers that the previous day was Groundhog Day. He also discovers, much to his horror, that he is trapped in Punxsutawney and that every day will be Groundhog Day! Phil tries to make the most of an impossible situation, by taking advantage of women. Whatever he does wrong with a woman on one Groundhog Day, he can correct on the next. Unfortunately he rapidly tires of this and becomes suicidal. The "suicides" are the most hysterically funny portions of the film, and are definitely worth the price of admission.

In GROUNDHOG DAY, Bill Murray turns in his best comic performance of his career. His character is smart and cocky, like many of his other films. But in GROUNDHOG DAY, Murray gets to show a side that is kind, romantic and most importantly human. Andie MacDowell portrays Phil's producer Rita, a woman that Phil never thought much of, but thanks to the close proximity of repeated Groundhog Days, Phil finds himself drawn to her. Andie MacDowell's performance is rich and funny, and she hasn't been this enjoyable in any other film in which she has appeared. Harold Ramis directed this comic gem with a subtle touch, and appears in a small role as a neurologist Bringing up the rear is Chris Elliott, as Phil's wisecracking cameraman.

Columbia/TriStar has matted GROUNDHOG DAY to approximate its 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio and the transfer is otherwise excellent. The image is detailed and the colors are very nice.

The digitally encoded Dolby Surround mix has some nice separations, and the mix is somewhat playful. The Sony pressing comes from their Austrian plant and is a little weak. There is a bit of video noise, which makes the image appear somewhat less crisp. Also, there are a few errant speckles.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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