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HTF REVIEW: "Groundhog Day" Special Edition (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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Groundhog Day Special Edition

I will not hesitate to admit that this one
of my all-time favorite comedies, and I am
certain, it ranks high amongst many of you.
And why not? Groundhog Day is one of
the most unique comedies ever made in that it
is a though experiment of sorts that makes us
take a look within ourselves and see how some
uncertainties may prevent us from being good doer's.
Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is a sharp-witted
weatherman for a local station. Sent out on an
assignment to cover Punxsutawney's Groundhog's Day
festivities, the day ultimately become's Phil's
worst nightmare. An unexpected blizzard traps
Phil in in town, and he is forced to stay at the
local inn.
Things soon to go from bad to worse as the
next morning Phil awakens to discover it's
Groundhog's Day all over again...and again...and
again. Each day he relives the same events as
before until he discovers the only change that
can happen is within himself.
The film's perfectly cast co-stars include Andie
MacDowell as his Producer and Chris Elliott as his cameraman.
Generally I am strongly against studios rereleasing
product to DVD, calling it a SPECIAL EDITION, and
only tacking on a few bits of added content. My
first fears were that this was exactly what Columbia
was doing. After all, their original 1997 DVD
release was regarded as being visually near-perfect.
I compared the original 1997 release to this new
Special Edition. The source material is exactly
the same. I noticed the same film blemishes in
the exact same places on both discs. And while
I wish I had two DVD players of the same make that
I could make side-by-side comparisons, switching
between the two discs, I found improvement with
this new release.
The Special Edition boasts a brand new anamorphic
(1.85:1) transfer. This release slightly improves
upon the older video transfer, with more natural
looking colors, especially in the flesh tones. The
new transfer has a much cleaner look to it, erasing
some of the slightly noticeable graininess of the
older version.
What you will certainly find more pronounced on
this Special Edition is the 5.1 Dolby Digital Mix.
I could immediately hear a more robust sonic
improvement all across the soundfield, especially
in the music tracks where my SV Subwoofer was
producing some nice bass response.
Now, did I miss something here? The back cover
states there is a 5.1 DTS track on this disc. I
will be absolutely damned if I could find it.
The Language menu gives you a choice of
DOLBY SURROUND and DOLBY DIGITAL. Where then is
the DTS track selection? Did Columbia forget to
include this track? Either I'm alerting the media
of a huge mistake or I am going to look like an
idiot if someone else's copy has a DTS track on it.
Extra Features
To begin with, the DVD starts with a rather cute
animated sequence from Channel 9 News that brings
up a map of the town with cross-streets, and heads
of the characters popping out of animated cars and
such.
The Weight of Time is a really fun newly
produced 30-minute documentary that has some neat
surprises and one noticeable omittance. The
documentary starts from the beginning as writer
DANNY RUBIN and Director HAROLD RAMIS talk about
the film's original script treatment and how much
it had changed by the time Ramis had reworked it.
Joined by actress Andie MacDowell and Actor Stephen
Tobolowski (the nerdy NED the insurance salesman),
we hear about the antics that went on around the set,
as well as how the filming location was selected,
and the cold weather that plagued them. Hidden
within this documentary are many short outtakes from
the film that are quite funny, including a montage of
outtakes where Murray and MacDowell are trying to warm
up from the cold. Noticeably absent from all this is
Bill Murray, who I suppose could not be secured for
this documentary.
There is a running audio commentary from Director
Harold Ramis included for the first time.
There are three Trailers that include
It Could Happen To You; Peggy Sue Got Married
and of course, the original Groundhog Day
trailer.
A Filmography is also included for Director
Ramis and all the three major stars of the film.
Final Thoughts
Normally I don't advocate taking a good DVD
release and trying to squeeze more out of it a
second time around. However, in this case, this
is a Special Edition that while not overly packed
with extras, boasts what seems to be a cleaner
transfer and souped up audio as well as a really
fun documentary.
I still want to know where the DTS track is
on this release and I caution all of you to
investigate this problem before considering
purchase based upon what the specs indicate.
Release Date: January 29, 2002
 

Kraig Lang

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May 28, 2000
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Hey Ron,

This is one of my (Near Future) Must Buys. Thanks for the review.

BTW, you've got great timing, I gave away my older version yesterday in anticipation of this.

Kraig
 

Alex Spindler

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Jan 23, 2000
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Didn't I just buy this disc?
Didn't you just ask me that?
In the spirit of the movie, I'll have to go get it.
:)
 

MichaelG

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Jul 10, 2000
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This is one movie that I can definately watch over and over. One of my favorite movies, I can't wait for the SE in two weeks. Hmmm, might be time to learn to play the piano.
 

Peter Kim

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Thanks for the attention to the improved picture and sound quality. This is a movie I LOVE (as opposed to love, then like a lot, then like, then what movie? ;) ), so any improvement commands a purchase.
This a movie that caught me by surprise when I first watched it. It seems to have infinite playability.
 

Duncan Harvey

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Mar 27, 2000
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Ron - is it really 5.1? I ask because apparently the R4 version of this (released a couple of weeks ago) has a 3.1 track (which sounds kind of wierd - if its a discrete version of the 2.0 mix why not make it 4.1?)

shame about the DTS - but if its not a true 5.1 maybe this explains its absence.
 

Carlo_M

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Another repurchase! Argh! (just blew a wad of cash on Tombstone and Sixth Sense...)

Ned? Ned Ryerson?
 

SteveGon

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I already sold my old copy in anticipation of this! Ron, thanks for the review. :)
 

Richard Kim

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The DTS could be a mistprint. It would seem strange that Sony would put DTS on a 9 year old comedy whose original theatrical audio is Dolby Surround, and not on more recent action films like Final Fantasy and The 6th Day.
 

Craig Cunningham

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I sent an e-mail to the Big Picture reviewer about this issue. Hopefully, he will verify that it contains a DTS track. I will let everyone know what I find out.
 

Jon_B

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This is one of my favorite movies. I had already purchased the first release. I might have to drop my old one and bring in the new one.

Jon
 

Ronald Epstein

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Scott,

I rarely listen to commentaries.

It's not a matter of choice -- it's a matter

of available time.

Reviewing films is an extra hobby of mine that

gets sandwiched between a normal 8.5 hour job and

running this forum.

Unlike other reviewers who get paid to write

reviews and can spend their entire day doing as

such, I'd rather review as many titles as I can

without going back and watching a selection twice

in order to hear the commentary.

I realize that not doing commentary reviews makes

my reviews less worthy in some aspects, but I have

to ultimately choose my priorities.
 

Scott Weinberg

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Ok, Ron. I wasn't trying to rile you up or imply that your reviews were somehow "lacking". That question was pretty much open to anyone.

Unlike other reviewers who get paid to write

reviews and can spend their entire day doing as

such...
I still can't tell if this is a dig on me or not! I WISH I could make a living with my reviews!
 

Ronald Epstein

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Oh, Scott, you didn't rile me up

nor did I take your comments offensively.

Take care!
 

Scott Weinberg

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Cool. I thought maybe I just caught you in a sour mood! I'm definitely picking this DVD up when it's released. I'm a sucker for a good commentary, and bought the new Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for the exact same reason.
Pretty weird, considering I'll never listen to these commentaries more than once!
 

Marc Colella

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Looks like Columbia played it smart by not including a DTS track.

The improvement in picture quality over the last release is worth the exclusion of a DTS track - especially since DTS wouldn't be much of an advantage for this title.
 

LukeB

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When a DVD is reviewed and doesn't even notice there's really a DTS track there, it's not a good sign for the site and most likely indicates that they don't actually go through the DVD and instead just watch a brief segment and take a quick look at the extras. The Big Picture's review is pretty small. The lack of DTS is kind of disappointing, since that leaves 2 benefits to the SE: commentary & documentary. A little bit of a letdown. I'm sure some very minor video improvement due to putting everything on a dual-layered disc, but still I've been holding off getting this one for a while in anticipation of an SE, and while I'm sure the DD sounds great, it'd be a shame if they took off the DTS at the last minute because people here were complaining over it.
 

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