Watch Murray enthusiastically shove an entire wedge of angel food cake with gooey pink frosting into his mouth in one inelegant bite and then soulfully bat his big, baleful eyes at MacDowell. Could anyone be ruder and, in the next instant, more subversively sweet? It's a quintessential Murray Moment and, thankfully, there are plenty more here.
An updated Beauty and the Beast for adults, Groundhog Day is an appealing sentimental comedy that almost manages to overcome its one-joke plot. Murray plays a cynical, egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman who wakes up morning after morning only to discover that it's still Feb. 2 and he's still stuck in Punxsutawney, Pa., covering the appearance of Punxsutawney Phil, the prognosticating groundhog. The lesson here is that only by transforming himself from a Beastly yuppie snob into a sensitive, caring guy can he win the Beauty he has been lusting after (MacDowell, tartly underplaying her role as a Polly-anna-ish television producer) and see Feb. 3 dawn.
The movie, directed with a sure hand by Murray's onetime fellow Ghostbuster Harold Ramis, goes a wee bit overboard in making Murray into a nice guy (does he have to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on an old homeless man?) and eventually runs low on comic inspiration. Still, given that so much of it is variations on a scene from Feb. 2, Groundhog Day is surprisingly inventive. (PG)