The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 1993
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 101 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/French/Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Dutch, Arabic
Starring: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brian Doyle-Murray
Directed by: Harold Ramis
Music by: George Fenton
Written by: Danny Rubin & Harold Ramis
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 27, 2009
"He’s having the day of his life…over and over again"
Bill Murray is at his wry, wisecracking best in this riotous romantic comedy about a weatherman caught in a personal time warp on the worst day of his life. Teamed with a relentlessly cheerful producer (Andie MacDowell) and a smart-aleck cameraman (Chris Elliott), TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities. But on his way out of town, Phil is caught in a giant blizzard, which he failed to predict, and finds himself stuck in small-town hell. Just when things couldn't get any worse, they do. Phil wakes the next morning to find it's Groundhog Day all over again... and again... and again.
I have been a Bill Murray fan since seeing him on Saturday Night Live and his early films such as Meatballs, Caddyshack, and Stripes. I haven’t seen every film he has made but I think I have seen most. What about Bob is among my Murray favorites and Groundhog day was his very next film so I looked forward to it. I recall seeing it theatrically and immediately finding it different than most of his other movies. I liked how the film blended humor, drama, and romance into a fantasy based story about a cynical, condescending weatherman who took things and people for granted. He goes to Punxsutawney, PA for the third year in a row to cover the annual ground hog festival. To him it is belittling and time wasting but this year Phil Connor (Murray) is in for a different experience. He completes his brief and somewhat sarcastic coverage of the event and can’t leave town fast enough. The problem is that an approaching snow storm strands Phil, producer Rita (MacDowell), and cameraman Larry (Elliott) in Punxsutawney for another night. Phil awakes the next morning to find that it is still February 2nd (groundhog day) and that he is the only one who knows it. No matter what Phil does he is trapped in an ongoing loop that cycles the same day over and over and over….
Phil Connor is in need of a lesson. He looks at the people around him and fails to see their worth outside of what, if anything, they can do for him. He remains trapped in this close knit, small town, until he realizes that perhaps he needs to look at the events in his life as well as the people from a different perspective. During the course of his repetitive stay he develops feelings for Rita. Initially he uses the time loop process to learn about her by taking things he picked up in the previous iteration to cajole her into falling for him. This backfires and results in frustration for Phil. He eventually learns through bitter experience that perhaps he is looking at it from the wrong viewpoint. After he successfully convinces Rita of what has been going on she points out that maybe he should look at it as a blessing rather than a curse and that he should take advantage of the time he has to do something worthwhile. This is carefully played out over the course of the movie and I like how it slowly builds for Phil as he begins to figure things out. I enjoy watching Phil’s transition from the cynical, wise cracking, opportunist to someone of measured worth who sees the value in people. This then becomes reflective and the people around him can see the qualities and value in Phil. I love watching Murray in this role as I think it offers him the chance to be more than just funny. The supporting cast is well placed, especially Stephen Tobolowsky as Ned Ryerson, who steals every scene he is in. I liked Andie MacDowell as Rita and thought that she and Phil were written as two perfectly contrasted opposites that would attract. I am glad to see this film brought to high definition Blu-ray Disc. It will be added to my collection and replace my existing 1998 DVD version.
The rating is for thematic elementsThe rating is for thematic elements.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Groundhog Day comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 1.4 mbps.
This video presentation offered pleasing well balanced colors, excellent shadow delineation, and respectable blacks that enhanced the visual depth of dark elements onscreen. Flesh tones among the cast were naturally depicted, with the exception of Murray. For some reason his complexion had a latex type texture that seemed to progress as the film went on. Grain is preserved naturally and comes in variable layers that rarely rise above moderate levels. I occasionally noticed halos around objects set against light colored backgrounds which is consistent with artificial sharpening but it was fairly minor. I detected some intermittent digital noise that was visible in backgrounds. I didn’t feel it was to the point where it negatively impacted fidelity but I wanted to mention it. Images were resolved well enough to bring out varying levels of detail that at times were revealing of fine textures and perceivable depth. This high definition presentation offers a discernible improvement over the DVD and represents the best that Groundhog day has looked on home video.
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack uses a different mix versus the lossy Dolby Digital surround track on the 1998 DVD release. With lossless audio’s higher fidelity I heard clearer highs that didn’t sound strident or tinny. This was noticeable during the party sequence near the end as the jazz band ensemble jams out. Dialogue is clearly articulated and rich in vocal description. This isn’t a dynamically impressive soundtrack but dynamic range is satisfying. The only scene that contains any appreciable impact is the chase sequence which culminates in the truck explosion. There was enough LFE mixed to the subwoofer that it provided brief, but palpable low bass detonation that resonated well into the room. Surround activity came in the form of diffused background sounds that were associated with crowd noises and music. I noticed that the surrounds were mixed a bit too hot at times which created an uneven balance between the front and rear sound fields. I found it occasionally distracting but this was scene dependent. The groundhog festival and the party sequence in the final act are two examples. I felt that the surrounds were too prominent during the festival scene but later when the band was playing at the party I felt that the balance was smoother and better integrated. I also noticed in chapter 12 as Phil and Rita sat in his room flipping cards that the volume of the entire track became lower. I have no idea why it did this but it was short in duration and gradually improved until it was normal by the beginning of the next segment. These few issues aside this is a discernible improvement over the DVD version that I have and overall I was pleased with it.
- Audio commentary with Director Harold Ramis
- (HD) A different day: An interview with Harold Ramis – 10 minutes
- Groundhog Day: The weight of time – 24 minute making of documentary
- (HD) The story of groundhogs: A real life look at Marmots
- Blu-ray Exclusive: Needle Nose Ned’s PiP popup trivia track
- 6 deleted scenes
- (HD) BD Previews
- BD-Live enabled
Groundhog day is considered by some to be a classic film. I am not so sure that I would elevate it to classic status but I certainly believe that it is a wonderful film that features Bill Murray in a transcendent role. It is one of my favorites among his many and its debut on Blu-ray disc offers fans a chance to see it looking its best. The bonus supplements are the same as those on the 15th anniversary edition DVD and also includes a Blu-ray Disc exclusive. For fans this is a no brainer. If you have never seen it I would recommend you give it a rent.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD55K Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld Ultraviolet & BetterCables Silver Serpent Reference HDMI Cabling
Best Deal Cables - Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package