Twenty years ago this day, Groundhog Day opened in 1,640 screens across the country. Initial reviews were mixed—TIME’s Richard Corliss, one of the critics praised the movie, said it was “a comic time warp anyone should be happy to get stuck in.” Posterity has been kind to the film, now widely regarded as a modern classic: in 2006, it was added to the United States National Film Registry—the official announcement calling it “a clever comedy with a philosophical edge to boot.”
(READ: Richard Corliss’ review)
Audiences, in particular, have embraced the movie—partly because of its constant presence on cable TV, but mostly due to a particularly fine script (ranked 27th on a list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays compiled by the Writers Guild of America) and a terrific ensemble, led by Bill Murray (who says that Tom Hanks was once considered for the role).
So, Happy Birthday, Groundhog Day! May Ned Ryerson continue to haunt Phil’s steps forever!