Some films in the #52PickUp will inevitably be a shock to the readers, and this film 1993s Groundhog Day will be one of them. Why?
Because until 2010, I had never seen this “Holiday” classic.
And rightfully so. For while it may have been rife with nostalgia if I had seen this as a child, it wouldn’t have had the same meaning. This is a movie clearly for adults through and through.
In Groundhog Day (buy it here), Phil Conners, a Pennsylvania weatherman is assigned to cover Punxsutawney Phil’s peak out into the world for the fourth year. Phil’s a bitter, selfish man who would rather be alone than be around the people of Punxsutawney.
Magically, and inexplicably, Phil is doomed to relive the same day over and over and over for an indeterminable amount of time. But it’s what he does with the gift/curse that makes this film truly entertaining.
I love how Phil fine tunes his experiences to make the best of the day. He’ll gather notes and study each situation carefully. He doesn’t use his powers for virtue however, but for selfish gain. He’s the living embodiment of selfishness, something most people in his situation would at least try a few times. Heck I would.
With each passing day (actually after about 239 days), Phil became more and more a kind soul. The turning point was when he and Rita stayed together all day to prove his condition was real. It was at this moment that Phil realized how pure Rita truly was, and it changed him. It seems like a small amount of time, but in reality, it takes a lot for a person to change; days upon days, years upon years; if at all.
The most heart-wrenching moment came when Phil tried to help the old man survive. He took him in, fed him, brought him to the hospital, and still every day the old man perished. For the first time, Phil was helpless; unable to change the outcome of the day. He had made several allusions (and declarative statements) about being A God, but this is the other side of that awesome power; watching others around you suffer.
Phil lives multiple years of the same day over and over. He’s learned ice sculpting, piano, French poetry, and everything about anyone in town; the town he once hated.
In fact how many years did he live February 2nd over and over? In this blog post by Blogger Wolf Gnards (yup), it was determined that the overall time spent reliving the same day was around 8.7 years. But Director Harold Ramis (Egon Spangler from Ghostbusters) had mentioned after that it’s more like 34 years! Of the same day!
Whatever the length, Groundhog Day is a classic 90s films, and one that will always hold its place in the annals of film history.
Where/ when did I first see it?
I believe the first year I watched Groundhog Day was 2009. While it wasn’t in my childhood, that era of Harold’s directing and Bill Murray at his comedic peak is where my heart lives.
The premise has been repeated ad nauseam since, but this too was not an original story. The writer Danny Rubin crafted one insanely prolific and timeless screenplay that is only dated by its clothes and technology.
How does it hold up?
Again, besides its aforementioned clothing and technology, it is truly timeless. Groundhog Day is a film that can be watched at any age, in any year, and the crux of the film holds true.
The jokes are wonderfully time-proof as well. Bill Murray’s sarcastic jabs will always be funny, and his tactics are too clever to fall to the cinematic wayside.
What did I like about it and Why?
Time travel is one of my jams, so his ability to perfect his constant day is something that brings pure joy to my face; it’s like resetting the time jump and killing your old version everyday. And I love how he uses this power for parlor tricks or to prove to Rita that he is in this situation like predicting events such as a waiter dropping dishes or “a gust of wind.”
The film’s message is also something to behold. We watch Groundhog Day in order to be entertained, but coming back to it all of these years later gives it new meaning. This time I picked up on the soup line, and another in particular when Phil goes to the bowling alley with the town drunks:
(Phil) What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?
(Gus) That about sums it up for me.
I’m racking my brain to categorize the film into any further #52PickUp staples because this film is so uniquely written. So in summation, I liked this film because it was Groundhog Day.
- Bill Murray was the perfect person to be cast as Phil Conners.
- “It gets hard down there at the bottom.”
- Be a good person, and you just might make someone’s day.
Where Can You See it?
Check out Groundhog Day on CanIStream.It?