Reviews of Groundhog Day (1993) and related work

Groundhog Day (1993Moving picture, 101 minutes)

A sarcastic weatherman goes to a town he hates, with colleagues who despise him. No matter what happens during the next day, he wakes up on the same morning and in the same bed. The previous version of that day exists only in his memories.

Mostly comedy with a simple supernatural idea similar to “Cause and Effect” (1992). The premise is used well, particularly the vision of divinity and the slow growth of empathy. Some of the repetition seems unnecessary—I would have preferred a few jump cuts—and the ending is moralistic, but quite profound.

References here: Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Story of Science Fiction (2018).

moving picture fiction

Groundhog Day for a Black Man” (2016Moving picture, 4 minutes)

Seen in 2023.

moving picture spin-off fiction

‣‣ “Two Distant Strangers” (2020Moving picture, 32 minutes)

Seen in 2022.

It’s rare to see a Groundhog Day spin-off that does not break the loop. That’s fun, but only as an abstract novelty. It’s not the only tweak of the formula: It turns out that Merk, the cop, is himself supernatural in this remake. He’s not necessarily driving the fantasy scenario, but he’s clearly aware of the loop in the same way as the protagonist, and interested in sustaining it instead of breaking out. None of that happens in Cynthia Kao’s “Groundhog Day for a Black Man”. As a separate premise of the fantasy scenario, Merk is malevolent on a level that surpasses even Joseph James DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, not to mention cops like Derek Chauvin who murder people of colour in public.

The two former tweaks are Brechtian, which is appropriate. The short film runs entirely on its political purpose even though its style is illusionistic, not Brechtian or over-the-top comedic. The third tweak, Satanic malevolence, is not Brechtian and does not serve the remake’s political purpose. The result is a mess: A film that I can neither enjoy as entertainment, like Groundhog Day, nor appreciate on a symbolic, political level, like “Groundhog Day for a Black Man”.

moving picture remake fiction