Bill Murray Isn't THE God, But He's A God
February 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm
Yesterday might have kicked off Feb Club and the Steelers may have won the Superbowl, but those events are nothing–-nothing!-–compared to the glory of today. Today is Groundhog Day. While it's not actually my favorite holiday of the year (Oh New Year's, you're always such a letdown, but I'll love you forever), it's up there. Groundhog Day celebrates the world's all-time most ludicrous superstition: that a groundhog, a furry, big-toothed, relatively unintelligent rodent, can predict how much more winter there will be based on whether it sees its shadow. Its shadow. Seriously. The largest stronghold of prophesying not-quite-rats is right here in PA; we live only a short 4 hours and 53 minutes from Punxsutawney, home of Punxsutawney Phil, so if you leave now...well, you won't make it, but there's always next year.
But aside from the wonderful fact that otherwise intelligent (probably?) adults cluster around burrows to see whether or not a marmot has a shadow, Groundhog Day also inspired one of the most brilliant movies of all time. Groundhog Day is such a perfect movie, I can forgive Andie MacDowell her vapidness (which is saying something, because she is really vapid). For those who haven't seen it: Bill Murray stars as Phil, asshole weatherman, who wakes up every morning to learn that it's February 2nd, again, and he's in Punxsutawney, where they take this amazingly stupid holiday verrrrrry seriously. Hilarity ensues.
The most spectacular part of this movie, though, is that even though it's Bill Murray at his funniest, it has a heart. Phil realizes that he's in love with Rita (MacDowell), and that to win her, he must become a good person. And so he uses his endless do-overs to change. Although not before he uses them to take advantage of lots of locals. He also attempts multiple methods of suicide, including electrocution and driving a truck off a cliff. Classic.
The first time I saw Groundhog Day was February 2nd, 1996, when my parents sat me down and told me that we needed to have an important talk. There was a funny man, they explained, who used to be on the adult version of All That, and who now makes movies. They were going to show me one of the funny man's movies, and they hoped I would like it. I've watched it every February 2nd since. February is a month that has very little going for it, unless you're a Penn senior and/or an NFL player, but Groundhog Day is the bright spot in all the gloom. Watch it tonight at 6 pm on FX. I know I will.