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Groundhog Day: Special Edition

If you were stuck watching just one movie over and over again, you could do a lot worse than Groundhog Day (1993). Harold Ramis' clever, high-concept comedy about a snarky, self-centered weatherman who gets his cosmic comeuppance by being forced to relive the same day until he gets it right is some of the best work Ramis has done as a director. And Bill Murray's star turn as Phil Connors isn't too shabby, either; the role has become one of his signature characters. Who better than Murray — an actor equally adept at doing nasty and nice — to take the groundhog-hating meteorologist through his spiritual journey? Because if you believe the Buddhists, Jesuits, Christians, and other religious-minded folk who've written to Ramis praising the film, Groundhog Day is more than simply a great comedy — it's a modern metaphor for the path to enlightenment. Luckily, it's also just plain funny, with Murray bouncing all of Phil's different phases off a talented supporting cast that includes a pleasantly low-key Chris Elliott as cameraman Larry, Stephen Tobolowsky going over the top as insurance salesman Ned, and the always-appealing Andie MacDowell as Rita, Phil's unattainable love interest. (And, of course, we can't forget Punxsutawney Phil, the titular groundhog at the center of all the hubbub.) Some of the movie's strongest scenes are the ones Phil replays repeatedly, reacting differently according to his state of mind; watching him progress through anger, denial, depression, and acceptance makes you believe that even the biggest jerk can find happiness and redemption (or at least a girlfriend). Columbia TriStar's new Groundhog Day: Special Edition DVD (which replaces a previously issued bare-bones disc) features a strong anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) — the full-frame version found on the older DVD is long gone — and crisp Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (other options include French, Spanish, and Portuguese 2.0, as well as a wide array of subtitles). Among the brand-new extras offered are a full-length commentary with Ramis (fairly standard, with lots of anecdotes about the film's production) and "The Weight of Time," a 24-minute "making-of" documentary that features interviews with Ramis, MacDowell, Tobolowsky, screenwriter Danny Rubin, and producer Trevor Albert. Filmographies and trailers (for Groundhog Day, It Could Happen to You, and Peggy Sue Got Married) round out the list. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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