Groundhog Day ★★★½

This is one long joke about reshoots, changing actor reactions take by take, and continuity, which isn’t automatically a metaphor for anything, just a logistical pain in the ass. But it’s also an opportunity for redoes and seeing how each choice produces new, branching-off results, and I’m surprised every Hong movie since like A Tale of Cinema hasn’t been compared to this.

This is a peak “Bill Murray vehicle” for him to be quippy, reflexively disdainful and so stuck within his own perpetually unhappy gravity that he makes Chris Elliott look like a barometer of normal humanity (until Murray ascends up the moral ladder at the end, at which point Elliott slides down into sub-Back to the Future-Crispin Glover schmuck range). To the extent Phil “evolves,” that’s because his schtick is recontextualized by a screenplay that’s unabashedly Buddhist and wonky in a very particular way (if also very LA in its limitations; it’s hard not to imagine Ramis and, say, Garry Shandling getting deep in space and time back in the day). You cannot see inside Phil, let alone any evidence he gets it for any reason other than self-interest.

Murray’s very funny and also a total pain in the ass, in the way nonstop mordancy can quickly go from hilarious to oppressive. He basically games out an entire day from start to finish, learning how to do the “right thing” so he can a) build/maintain a relationship he would otherwise divebomb 20 times daily without even meaning to b) get to the next day. That’s the sole goal, and interior growth is not on the table. I’m not remotely surprised to find out Murray was in a nasty mid-divorce mood while making this and would probably have rather it all just went away.