Seeing Groundhog Day Again (and again, and again, and…)

I have seen Groundhog Day (1993) over a dozen of times and each viewing has never felt like Groundhog Day.

Despite its premise about a day that repeats itself thousands of times from Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” at 6:00am to the next flip clock rotation 24 hours later, Groundhog Day remains innovative and fresh time after time.

My middle brother and sister-in-law see Groundhog Day every Groundhog Day and tell me: “They don’t make comedies like this anymore. Bill Murray’s facial expressions alone are funny. I think it’s the most spiritual movie I’ve ever seen.”

My loved ones couldn’t be anymore random and anymore right.

It is still a cinematic miracle how weatherman Bill Murray’s self-seeking journey can be so funny on the surface yet so existential on a deeper level, even to this day, 28 years later.

I mean, what would you do if you could relive the same day everyday of your life?

It turns out, it’s more a question of human powerlessness than willpower.

I find it hard to believe most human beings (at least, Americans) wouldn’t follow the same steps as Bill Murray’s “Phil” when he discovers he can come back to life on the same day…

February 2nd,

Ground-freaking-hog Day

There are several fascinating articles online about Groundhog Day’s implication of the Kübler-Ross “5 Stages of Grief” Model: 1. Denial 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression 5. Acceptance

http://paulinalunnxo.blogspot.com/2015/02/groundhog-days-stages-of-grief.html

These are valid parallels and delineations, but good ole Bill Murray never really gets angry (except for the scene when he grabs Phil Nyerson’s brown furry winter coat collar), and this movie is less about grief and more about human transformation.

To me, Phil is a post-modern Ebenezer Scrooge (Scrooged, anyone?), a selfish grump who has nowhere else to go but up. If there are stages he follows to get to the top of human transformation, they would be:   

Indulgence

This is the fun, haphazard part of the movie where Phil goes to town on vanilla sponge cake, cigarettes, and even death itself. It’s as if he gathers as many pleasures as possible to fill his inner void. How quickly do these materialistic go-tos disappoint and leave Phil in an utter state of…

Depression

This is the darker side of the movie. There is no end to this repetitive holiday nightmare, even when Phil makes full use of his suicide attempt options. Director Harold Ramis (RIP) plays his cards wisely and blends this dire reality with a touch of frivolous comedy (the pickup truck ride of doom with the groundhog behind the wheel made it into a Super Bowl commercial last year!). But, the result is always the same: 6:00am to Sonny and Cher. Things can only change once Phil embraces…

Acceptance

Phil’s relationship with Andi MacDowell’s character gradually evolves into an unconditional love, and instead of searching for answers for himself, he turns toward others’ needs. Yet, at the other end of this hope is the acceptance that death is still inevitable on this particular Groundhog Day on repeat, and no matter how many times Phil tries to save the hungry, homeless man, he is a reminded that life is too short.

Change

Finally, after what film analysts have estimated to be 3,176 Groundhog Days, Phil puts 110% into the present moment, taking piano lessons to saving groundhog proprietor, Buster, from choking on his steak, to selflessly (!) winning the heart of his loved one.

What could have been a banal rom-com turns into a spiritual transformation of sorts and one of the ultimate feel-good movies ever made. That isn’t easy to do, and that’s why I’ve always considered this to be a groundbreaking movie. Plus, can you name one person who only saw this film one time? It’s impossible!

For me, Groundhog Day made Groundhog Day a meaningful holiday. I think of everyone who will be watching this movie on February 2nd, and I immediately conclude that they must be good people – people trying their best to do their best.

And, to think…

All the groundhog has to do is come out of his hut and look at his shadow.

Thank you for reading and Happy Groundhog Day!

Reely Bernie

19 thoughts on “Seeing Groundhog Day Again (and again, and again, and…)

Add yours

  1. I do love that movie, it’s funny and smart, and Murray is just impeccable with his face of a sad, wise clown… Thanks for reminding me, it’s time for a rewatch! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Neeeddddd routine is great. I would punch the guy also. Love love love this movie.

    Bernie I didn’t get back with you because of stupid work…I will try today.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. LOL… and it only gets worse!

        You lost your 3rd baseman dam it…you could have at least traded him to the Dodgers…geeeezzz

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Also, by throwing out the best 3B in baseball with $50 million, put me down in predicting that the Rox will also get rid of one of the best Short Stops too. Rebuild mode? More like Relegation to AAA.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yea they had something going on 2 years ago and then just gave up. I was hoping if he went he would go to where he grew up! I HATE the Cardinals.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I blame it on the hubris of GM Jeff Bridich and and ignorance of owner Dick Monfort who built our team into a beer-drinking resort for sun and conversation. Baseball and winning come third and fourth. I hate the Cards too. I might have to root for my first team – the Red Sox – who I rooted for as a kid before the Rockies even existed. We are so embarrassed and pissed by this trade. Again, Jeff Bridich and Dick Monfort. Pure idiocracy.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Yea I didn’t get it…of course, he would have left next year or whenever he had the out…He was tired of it all.

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Yeah, but keep in mind he knew what kind of team he signed that mega deal with last year: Rockies don’t spend money. Period. Why he signed that thing, I’ll never know, and why Jeff Bridich made him feel unwelcome, I won’t know either. Such a mess. I’m just excited to bring my daughter to a game or two down the road. Maybe in 7 years, we will talk about a better team… Looking forward to the next draft movie pick from you. My next one will cause a stir, I think…

              Liked by 1 person

            4. Yea he shouldn’t have signed it.
              I’m going to get that movie to you…. my next one will be black and white…a noir… a famous one though.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Bern!….. Ned? …..Ned Ryerson?…pow!
    Groundhog Day and What About Bob are my favorite Bill Murray movies. Growing up on Forest CT, these two VHS cassettes were played more often than many of the others. And, for road trips, I recorded the audio from both movies on audio cassettes and you kids laughed along as we traveled in the Blue Voyager van. Great memories, bud! Love, y o d

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Plymouth Voyager! My high school ride! Yeah, it’s such an endearing movie to always turn to, and it just never gets old! I can hear “Pennsylvania Polka” in my head right now!

      Like

  4. I think we’ve all been kinda living a “Groundhog Day” life during this pandemic. Every day, same old, same old….and probably have all gone through the same….indulgence…depression…acceptance…change…

    Liked by 1 person

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