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Directed by Harold Ramis
Produced by Trevor Albert & Ramis
Written by Danny Rubin
Special Features: Commentary by Ramis. Featurette: “A Different Day: an Interview with Harold Ramis”; “The Weight of Time” documentary; “The Study of Groundhogs: a Real Life Look at Marmots”. Deleted scenes. English, French & Portuguese audio & subtitles.
With Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell & Chris Elliott

Three DVD extras are new from the 2002 edition: “The Study of Groundhogs,” a scientific examination of the yellow-belly marmot (i.e., woodchuck or groundhog) plays straight – the tone’s almost as deadpan as Bill Murray’s performance. Most of the deleted scenes are really snippets, understandably cut out from the film. And the other extra, “A Different Day,” is an interview with director Harold Ramis, a 10-minute condensed version of his amicable feature-length commentary.

His audio track still lends itself to a repeat viewing of this existential comedy (AKA The Black Hole of Love in Brazil). But once the director mentions how the original spec script by Danny Rubin began in the middle of the maelstrom, with Phil (Murray) already caught in a time warp of repeating the same day, February 2nd, over and over again, it’s hard not imagine how this would have added to Phil’s (and the viewer’s) disorientation. Given the already jumbled time line, it’s hard not to think that this would have been a more bewildering beginning. Instead, Ramis reshaped the script so that the audience, as well as Phil, discovers his metaphoric predicament, which shrewdly spells out Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of death and dying. Luckily, that’s about the extent of the psychobabble in his remarks and in the film.

The film endures largely because of the appeal of both its story line and the cast. MacDowell’s acting has never been breezier. Maybe she was more relaxed because Ramis allowed her to speak in her native South Carolinian dialect. And especially after Lost in Translation and Broken Flowers, this is the familiar melancholic and deadpan “bad” Bill. With his mocking sense of humor, he would never be completely convincing as a straight romantic lead. (His career has taken a different trajectory than fellow comedian Robin Williams’ middle-of-the-road, family-friendly, some would say biteless, comedies.) Even as George Fenton’s score swoons, Murray’s Phil remains firmly planted on the ground; he gives into the romance, but with one eye open. (Sadly, Murray is missing from the extras.) Kent Turner
January 29, 2008



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