There are very few perfect films.
Part of what makes films so beautiful and rich and rewarding is that they are the result of a sort of mass insanity that happens when you have all of these people all pushing to create something tangible, something that moves us to some sort of real emotional place. It's easy to forget that movies are ultimately a bunch of people standing around playing make-believe, but with a crew there to capture it all. Considering how many moving pieces there are in any film, it's almost miraculous when they actually come together coherently, much less in a way that manages to make us genuinely lose ourselves in what we're watching.
Harold Ramis made a perfect movie. "Groundhog Day" is one of the few mainstream comedies that I think actually grows and gets richer and more wonderful the more you revisit it, something which seems especially apt considering how the film is structured. The original Danny Rubin script was a damn fine starting point, but it was Ramis who polished that script into the gem it is, as great a piece of commercial movie writing as "Back To The Future," and in scene after scene, Ramis is so on-point as a director that it's sort of humbling. "Groundhog Day" is what it looks like when someone is so in the zone that they can't get it wrong, when everything clicks on every level, and it may be the best of Bill Murray's big comedy performance. Again, that's apt considering the history Murray shares with Ramis, and while the collaboration they had on this evidently ended their personal and professional relationships, at least we'll always have this moment, this particular high point for both of them, and we can cherish that.
When I got the news via phone call this morning that Ramis had passed away, it hit me much harder than most celebrity deaths do, and I'm still struggling to fully articulate why that is.