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KIDS ON FILM

Gags Don't Overshadow Message in 'Groundhog'

March 04, 1993|LYNN SMITH | Lynn Smith is a staff writer for The Times' View section. and

In "Groundhog Day," a big-city TV weatherman with an attitude (Bill Murray) finds himself in a small town reliving Feb. 2 until he becomes kind and gentle enough to win the heart of his beautiful female producer. (Rated PG)

*

Arrogant men learning their lesson is not a new message to kids familiar with "Regarding Henry," "The Doctor," or "A Christmas Carol." But kids liked the novelty of seeing Bill Murray spend eternity in Punxsutawney, Pa., even if, for some, eternity got a little old after a while.

"It was funny," said Jonathan, 12. "Not funny like a 'Kindergarten Cop' movie. Or 'Home Alone.' " But, he said, this one has more of a message and not as many gags.

"He relives the same day over and over throughout the movie. I guess the plan was that he could get out if he did everything right and helped everybody."

For Jonathan, the fun was that "you'd see him blow himself up, then 10 seconds later, he'd wake up again. And he kept coming back the next day. . . .

"He killed himself about 20 times. He electrocuted himself, he drove on the railroad tracks, he jumped off a cliff, he fell off a building. . . .

"It was funny because he kept on learning all these things, and he knew when everything was going to happen."

The funniest part of all? "Probably when he let the groundhog drive and said, 'Don't drive mad' and then they drove off a cliff and blew up."

Jonathan's cousin Troy, 8, liked the part "when they kept on showing the clock turning to 6 o'clock and then he'd break it and then it'd turn 6 o'clock again and he'd break it again."

After a while, Jonathan's other cousin, Tyler, 14, was thinking the same thing. "They should have ended it a little sooner," he said.

Some kids who had seen the trailers advertising the movie felt like they were simply connecting the dots between the scenes they'd already seen.

"I felt like I'd seen most of it," said Amanda, 11.

The kids gave the movie a unanimous four out of five stars.

The boys said it could be improved with more gags. They immediately started to imagine a sequel using different holidays.

Jonathan: "I'd like to see the Fourth of July. That would be hilarious."

Troy: "Yeah. He'd probably get blown up or something. They'd get a fire extinguisher."

Jonathan: "He'd shoot off some firecracker, blow himself up, jump into the ocean, then blow himself up, then fall out of a plane and blow himself up."

Troy: "They should have a big huge firecracker, then shoot him up in the sky and he'd fall down all in sparks to the ground. And have him wake up again."

For kids, can it get much better than this?

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