Study Guide

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day Introduction


Release Year: 1993

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Director: Harold Ramis

Writers: Danny Rubin, Harold Ramis

Stars: Andie MacDowell, Bill Murray, Chris Elliott


What would you do if you had to live the same day over and over… and over? 

And over.

...and over.

Chances are pretty good that you'd do some kind of version of what Groundhog Day's Phil Connors does: respond with a total disbelieving freak out, followed by a hedonistic whirlwind, followed by some serious depression, followed by learning all the skills you always wanted to learn and becoming a great person.

We say this for two reasons.

Reason 1: Phil Connor's actions pretty closely follow four of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. You're pretty much guaranteed to freak out, lash out, get bummed out, and then chill out after something really big and upsetting (whether it's the death of your goldfish Glubby or being stuck in and endless loop of the Pennsylvania Polka.)

Reason 2: Because you've seen Groundhog Day.

At its heart, Harold Ramis' 1993 classic comedyis a Scrooge-like story of how a big jerk learns to be a good person after spending years reliving the same day over and over. It doesn't happen overnight, but the longer he relives the same day, the more he realizes that he's in love with a good woman named Rita and that he truly wants to be with her.

It might seem like a warm and fuzzy comedy, but Groundhog Day can get dark—especially when Phil Connors decides that the only way to escape his purgatory is to try to kill himself in a dozen different ways.

But amongst all this darkness is a powerful spiritual message, and that's probably why many different religions have looked to this movie as a positive example of a soul's journey from badness into goodness (source). 

Because, at the end of the day, being selfish gets really boring when you've got an eternity in front of you.

What is Groundhog Day About and Why Should I Care?

We'll tell you why you shouldn't study this film first: you're probably not going to be stuck in an endless time loop, constantly reliving a Groundhog Day full of cold showers and weather-predicting rodents.

Phew, right?

So what can you learn from Groundhog Day now that we've ruled out its usefulness as a primer for the stuck-in-time?

Um: where to start?

Here's a reason: it's consistently voted one of the best movies ever made… or at least one of the "perfect" comedies.

Here's another: it's a famous film by the equally famous Harold Ramis, who influenced several generations of comedians and comedy writers.

How 'bout this one: it's also a film starring Bill Murray, who made the leap from comic everyman to bonafide cultural icon.

Or, hey: it's considered by many to be among the most spiritual movies ever made. Or, if we want to get deep: it's a philosophical treatise on the nature of immorality. Groundhog Day states that, given enough time, immorality gets boring. Being bad feels pretty good… but only for a limited amount of time. After a while, being good starts to feel even better.

The inspiration angle: you don't get to relive one day over and over again. Time's a-wasting. Carpe that diem. Do what you love. Start those piano lessons or that ice-sculpting class today…because you don't have the luxury of time that Phil Connors does.

Did we get too deep for you? Well, we'll end on a light note: Groundhog Day is also laugh-out-loud hilarious, with the right balance of the dark and macabre and the silly and romantic to keep you chucking throughout.

Trivia

Want to know just how many days Phil Connors spent reliving Groundhog Day? Well, this page might give you the beginnings of an answer.
(Source.)

Many people think that Groundhog Day is one of the most spiritual movies ever made, and The National Post seems to agree in this touching tribute to director Harold Ramis.
(Source.)

Believe it or not, Groundhog Day is a favorite movie among various religions and spiritual leaders. The movie even kicked off a 2003 exhibition on faith and film at the Museum of Modern Art. How's that for leaving a mark?
(Source.)

Groundhog Day Resources

Websites

Groundhog Day on Rottentomatoes.com
65 top critics and nearly half a million fans have decided that Groundhog Day is a certifiably great movie. So take that, haters.

Groundhog Day at Transparencynow.com
These folks believe that Groundhog Day is a truly great moral movie and want to explain to you why that's the case. Won't you let them?

Groundhog Day at Rogerebert.com
The great film critic Roger Ebert may no longer be with us, but he was a great admirer of Groundhog Day for many years. He even gave it a four-star rating.

Articles and Interviews

12 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Groundhog Day
For starters, Bill Murray got bitten twice by that pesky little groundhog. All that and more great mysteries revealed in this Buzzfeed article.

Groundhog Day: The Perfect Comedy
This article in The Guardian insists that Groundhog Day pretty much covers all the bases required to be considered a perfect comedy.

Groundhog Day Turns 20
In 2013, Yahoo decided to celebrate Harold Ramis' great comedy with an article exploring 20 things you probably didn't know about the movie.

Video

Groundhog Day Original Trailer
Back in 1993, this is the trailer you would have seen. Doesn't it just make you want to run to the movie theatre and buy your ticket now?

Groundhog Day Best Scenes
Don't want to watch the whole thing again? Well here are all the best scenes in a mere 2 minutes and 22 seconds.

All the Ned Scenes
We're willing to bet that you—like Phil—just can't get enough of Ned Ryerson. So here's a tribute to good ol' Ned.

Audio

"I Got You Babe"
If you want to get inside Phil Connors' head, just throw this song on loop for a couple of thousand hours.

Phil's Piano Solo
What would be the point of all that practice if we couldn't show off Phil's big piano solo?

Groundhog Day Music Medley
And here's a nice taste of the whole musical score from the movie.

Images

Taking A Ride
Here's a nice shot of a laughing Bill Murray and a clearly angry Punxsutawney Phil.

Cool Poster
What an awesome design. Check it out for yourself. Doesn't something about it ring true?

Good Ol' Ned
We admit it. We can't get enough of Ned Ryerson.