Film Face-off: 'Edge of Tomorrow' vs. 'Groundhog Day'

Film Face-off: 'Edge of Tomorrow' vs. 'Groundhog Day'

Jun 09, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow is kind of like Groundhog Day. You know this because you've seen the trailer, or someone described the concept. While I do try to avoid everything about a film before I see it, I knew this much. And since Edge of Tomorrow is kind of like Groundhog Day, so that means it is this week's Film Face-off.

Now, if you just thought, "You can't compare these two films, that's like comparing apples to a different kind of fruit that isn't apples." To you I say, "pish" and "posh." It's Edge of Tomorrow vs. Groundhog Day.


Leading Man

Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise plays Cage. He's an untrained officer caught in a time loop in a war with an alien race.

Groundhog Day

Bill Murray plays Phil. He's a weatherman stuck in a time loop in a small town reliving Groundhog Day.

Winner: Groundhog Day. Let's try to get over the idea that you probably can't have Edge of Tomorrow without Groundhog Day. Both leading men are arrogant with what they do. Both feel put upon with their suddenly difficult situation. Phil explores it a little bit better than Cage, plus Murray has the power to get people to gravitate toward him whether he's playing a likable character or not. Let's also focus on the stars. Cruise just came off of three films (Oblivion, Rock of Ages and Jack Reacher) that failed to make $100 million at the box office. That hasn't happened for him since 1992, which is insanely impressive. This means for what he is used to, he needs a hit, ideally that isn't Mission: Impossible. Murray has never been about box office. His three previous films to Groundhog were What About Bob?, Quick Change and Ghostbusters II. It's odd to say, but his star power was probably a little brighter because people weren't thinking he was on a downslope, which is the perception of Cruise right now.



Edge of Tomorrow

Emily Blunt plays Rita. She's considered the best Special Forces soldier with her combat jacket and sword. Cage and Rita join forces against the aliens.

Groundhog Day

Andie MacDowell plays Rita. She's Phil's producer, and annoyed with his lack of compassion and general moodiness. Then he tries to woo her.

Winner: Edge of Tomorrow. Groundhog's Rita is the ultimate wet blanket. Just think about the typical toast she makes before a sip from her Vermouth on the rocks with a twist. MacDowell, plus that awful '90s fashion of hers, seems to make Rita an even wetter blanket. I don't want or need Phil to fall for her. I love to imagine what Michelle Pfeiffer would have done with this role. Ugh, Rita's a buzz kill. Speaking of kill, wow does Edge's Rita do it. Her nickname is Full Metal Bitch and she deserves it. Not only is there a great coach/player relationship between Rita and Cage, there is some subtle romance thrown into Edge of Tomorrow that is quite wonderful. It is great to see Blunt flex her acting muscles and her actual muscles with this role, and her Rita gets a dominating victory.


The Others

Edge of Tomorrow

Brendan Gleeson is General Brigham, who sends Cage into battle. Bill Paxton is Master Sergeant Farell, who makes sure Cage goes to battle. Jonas Armstrong is Skinner, and Tony Way is Kimmel. They're part of a group of misfit soldiers paired up with Cage.

Groundhog Day

Chris Elliott is Larry, the awkward camera guy. Stephen Tobolowsky is Ned, the awkward old acquaintance. Brian Doyle-Murray is Buster and Marita Geraghty is Nancy, a woman Phil seduces.

Winner: Groundhog Day. Larry is sold for two bits, and "I bid two bits" is a shared movie quote with my college friends. Tobolowsky is known for this film more than his 1.6 million others. Bing again! Phil having and using his powers to seduce Nancy was a dream for the 17-year-old me. Throwing in another Murray is just a smart thing to do. All in all, it's an amazing cast that fills up this film. Edge does correctly cast Paxton as the master sergeant. The repetitiveness of his orders with Cage is great banter. Otherwise, this is a pretty weak part of the film. I'm left feeling like General Brigham had some deleted scenes, otherwise his motivation seems excessive. The misfit soldiers feel cliched, especially when they make a comeback in the third act.


The Action/Comedy Connection

Edge of Tomorrow

For Cage's day to reset, he must be killed. This means that if he breaks a leg during training, it's better to shoot him and restart. The same concept goes for the battlefield.

Groundhog Day

Phil drives recklessly with a few locals. Later, he kidnaps Punxsutawney Phil (the groundhog) and drives into a quarry. There are a few attempts at suicide, and he learns how to sculpt ice.

Winner: Edge of Tomorrow. The strong suit for Groundhog is comedy. The strong suit for Edge is action, but for those moments when they are combined, Edge wins. The ways in which Cage accidentally dies, dies because of injury, and dies because of stupidity are really great fun. It's surprisingly affective to watch over and over again. You normally don't get the chance to revel in the lead dying in a typical movie. For some of you, that's exactly what you want to see happen to Cruise. For the record, I disagree with you on that front, Cruise is one of our all-time great movie stars. When Groundhog does lean toward action, it comes off as a time filler, and not the best comedy in the film. Then again, I do find myself saying, "Don't drive angry," from time to time.


The Repeatable World

Edge of Tomorrow

Cage is stuck in the front lines of a battle against aliens that are almost the ideal killing machine.

Groundhog Day

Phil is stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania with small-town folk covering the same boring news story.

Winner: Groundhog Day. With this category, let's think about what world you would rather be stuck in. War, what is it good for? Well, in Edge it is perfect for becoming a highly trained soldier who can treat the battlefield like a video game. Given the time, wouldn't you like to take down the aliens that look like an evolution from the machines we saw in The Matrix? Keep in mind, you have to die each day, and if you don't, things will actually get worse. Plus, there's the fact that you wake up each day being forced into action. With Groundhog, you don't have to die at the end of each day, but you can if you want to. You could also just lock your door and read all day long. I know hearing "I Got You Babe" would get annoying, but so would trying to escape a master sergeant each day. Playing in the small town gives you many more options, you just have to realize you don't actually need to wear a combat jacket to be happy.


OVERALL WINNER: Groundhog Day beats Edge of Tomorrow, 3-2.

Both of these films are in my top two "time-loop movies with a Rita." I am really happy to report that I'm not sure which one I actually like better. The last time I watched Groundhog Day, I was surprised there weren't that many huge laughs, plus it ultimately becomes the story of Phil loving wet blanket Rita in her perfectly created world. With Edge of Tomorrow, the middle is the best part. You can't say that about many films. With a couple of changes to the beginning and ending, I could have seen this becoming a classic. More important than Groundhog's victory is that Edge of Tomorrow is one of the few original blockbuster films we are getting this summer, and it's a good one.




Categories: Features, In Theaters
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