Groundhog Day

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1992 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 96:58 Minutes  Other Extras Cast & Crew Filmographies
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Harold Ramis

Columbia TriStar
Starring Bill Murray
Andie MacDowell
Chris Elliott
Stephen Tobolowsky
Brian Doyle-Murray
Marita Geraghty
Case Brackley
RRP $39.95 Music George Fenton

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement A very clever reference to Caddyshack.
Otherwise, no.
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Groundhog Day is a film with a lot of mixed meanings for me, and it also shows a (slightly) darkly humorous side to what I like to call the X-Files Syndrome, a well-known psychological condition in which the sufferer feels as if he is living the same day over and over and over no matter what he does to change that. The fact that this film can make me laugh at a situation which I find all too eerie in its similarity to my own speaks volumes for its quality. Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is a rather unpleasant man who finds little pleasure in his life except for making others feel miserable. This year, like every one of the previous few years, he is sent to the sleepy town of Punxsutawney to cover an annual event known as Groundhog Day. This particular event is one where the populace goes to a location within the town called Gobbler's Knob, where a beaver by the name of Punxsutawney Phil is called upon to predict whether or not there will be an early end to the harsh winter that Punxsutawney experiences every year. This year, Phil is accompanied by producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott). However, after the business of covering the event and getting out of town is done with, Phil finds himself waking up in Gobbler's Knob again, with the radio announcing that it is Groundhog Day. Phil remembers having already done this, but nobody else in the town does, and that includes Rita and Larry. At first, Phil reacts as any man would to being forced to live the same day over and over in spite of what he might do. He has his head investigated by a neurologist (a quick cameo by Harold Ramis) and a psychiatrist, whose mutual inability to help him drives him to do what people like me would do in this situation. He drives on the train tracks, he drops a radio in his own bath, he jumps out in front of a truck, he jumps off a building, he even kidnaps Punxsutawney Phil and drives off a cliff in a four-wheel drive. Unfortunately, none of these actions make the slightest difference, and he is stuck living the same day again and again, seemingly with no end in sight.

    This might sound like a somewhat limited scenario to bring into a film, but screenwriter Danny Rubin and director Harold Ramis (who also participated in the writing of the screenplay) put together this film in a wonderful manner. Bill Murray is in fine form as the hapless victim of a weird perpetually repeating time-warp, and even Andie MacDowell is a lot better than her usual self. The only real weak point of this film is that there may as well not be a cast in this film besides them, but this is of little consequence when you absorb the amount of character development that was put into their roles. Phil Connors is a very believable portraiture of a man who is living each day like there really is no tomorrow, which is very good considering the entire film revolves around him. The film moves slowly, in careful and moderate steps, but the characters make it seem fast-paced. Both of the principal characters in the film are so well-constructed that you hardly notice the fact that the rest of the cast merely exists to give them something to interact with. Bill Murray is so convincing in his portrayal of Phil Connors that even I began to really feel for him. I see a huge number of films all the time where I can poke a million holes in the plot, but this one is so well put together that I cannot even make a solid criticism of the way Connors' psychology is affected by his situation. There's even an excellent reference to one of the best pieces of dialogue from one of Harold Ramis' earliest directorial efforts, Caddyshack ("be the hat"), which has to qualify as being the single most non-annoying product placement I've ever seen in a film. If you're after a great comedy with a heart, soul, and meaning, then you cannot go far wrong with Groundhog Day. Why it didn't win any awards for at least the screenwriting is a mystery to me.

Transfer Quality


    I read a review on another Region 4 site which generally described the video quality of this DVD as being distinctly average, even quite poor at the beginning. I was therefore surprised to see that the Brackley case which this film came in bore the Gold Standard Quality sticker. While this is definitely not a reference quality transfer, I have no idea what the other reviewer was complaining about. The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 Enhancement, and our version is little different in this regard to the Region 1 version. It is worth noting that unlike Hard Target, which runs for two minutes less and isn't 16x9 Enhanced, this film is presented on a single layer. Again, a film studio has foisted a 1.78:1 presentation of a 1.85:1 film upon us. Still, this is a massive improvement over the first time I saw this film, through the magic of Full Frame presentation. The transfer is variably sharp, with the majority of the scenes in the film being quite clear and razor-sharp. One or two sequences became a little blurry, but this was more to do with the original photography than the transfer. Shadow detail is somewhere between average and good, with all details being easy to make out, although the lighting seemed to be unnaturally low at some points. Again, this is more than likely the fault of the original photography rather than the transfer.

    Colour saturation was slightly bright in some sequences, most notably the sequence in which Phil attempts to convince Rita of the truth behind his situation. I believe this was also an artistic choice designed to highlight the weirdness of Phil's situation. MPEG artefacts were completely absent from the transfer, which is quite excellent when you consider that the bit rate was constantly varied between four and seven Mb/s and that a lot of sequences involve snow or water in some other state. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some very minor aliasing in car chrome and windows from time to time, but you would have to look at the picture with a magnifying glass to notice most of it. If there is one thing that denies this transfer reference status, however, it is the abundance of film artefacts, which came fast and thick during the first and last few minutes of the film. During ninety of the film's ninety-seven minutes, they settled to an acceptable rate, but they were found in an amount that makes the film look seventeen years old instead of seven. Understand that these black and white marks were not obtrusive, but they were present often enough to be noticed in spite of it. If not for this fact, the video transfer would almost certainly be of reference quality. Sadly, RSDL formatting would not have helped this situation at all.


    Okay, the film also shows its age more than it should in the presentation of the audio, but given that this film is primarily driven by dialogue, we can ignore this fact. The film is presented in five languages, all of them in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround encoding: the default, and original, soundtrack in English, plus dubs in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Because of the psychological subtexts of this film, I sampled the dialogue in German (a great language when it comes to describing abnormal psychology in my opinion) and, of course, listened a few times to the default English soundtrack. I also sampled a few lines in Spanish, but the tone of Spanish does not suit this film at all well. The dialogue was always very easy to understand and make out, although some words such as the name of the town are hard to follow because of the phonetics in them. Essentially, if you have a problem following the film at any point, you cannot blame it on the audio mix, and audio sync was not a problem at any point, either.

    The music score was by George Fenton, and it did a masterful job of augmenting the feel of every sequence that it accompanied. It was consistently subtle and integrated into the film, giving a sense of Connors' emotions in each sequence. The first time that Connors repeats Groundhog Day is especially well-carried in the score music, with a suitably low-key and "something's not quite right here" sound coming through. Most of the music consists of subtle arrangements of strings and synthesizers, with an excellent jazz number towards the end of the film. It's a pity I haven't heard any more of Fenton's work, although I believe I may have heard it in some other Ramis film without remembering.

    The overall surround presence is somewhat monophonic in nature, with the majority of the dialogue and sound effects coming out of the stereo channels in equal amounts. Occasionally, the surrounds would be called upon to support the music and some ambient sounds, but these moments were few and far between. The sound field is very effective in spite of the limited use of the channels. The subwoofer was called upon once in a while to support some moments in the film, mainly revolving around Connors' suicidal behaviour.



    The menu is presented with some stills from the film or its advertisements. It is 16x9 Enhanced, but otherwise unremarkable.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in 1.78:1 with 16x9 Enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this trailer's video quality is reasonable enough in spite of the fact that it was most likely sourced from an NTSC master.

Cast & Crew Filmographies

    Filmographies for Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Harold Ramis are provided with some small biographical details interspersed in them.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     There's no contest here: Region 4 wins hands down.


    Groundhog Day is a very good comedy that any man in my shoes will be able to personally relate to. It is presented on a good DVD.

    The video quality is good, but there is an abundance of film artefacts.

    The audio quality is true to the source material, and given the importance of the dialogue, is very good.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
March 30, 2000.

Review Equipment
DVD Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer