Groundhog Day Summary
Phil Connors is a TV weatherman who thinks that his current job at a local Pittsburgh station is a waste of his talent. The guy's basically an egomaniac, so he definitely isn't impressed when his bosses send him off to the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities.
Phil gets through the day by doing the bare minimum to perform his job. But when he tries to head home, a blizzard keeps him in Punxsutawney. Phil spends the night and wakes up the next day to find that he has to live Groundhog Day all over again. And again. And again.
Phil's early reaction to reliving the same day is to use his knowledge of Groundhog Day for selfish purposes. For example, he steals some bank money and uses his intel to trick a pretty woman into sleeping with him. Then he sets his sights on his producer, Rita. But he eventually realizes that no matter how many times he attempts to seduce her, she'll always see through his selfish games.
After a while, Phil realizes that he'll never escape Groundhog Day. That's when he decides to kill himself. But no matter how many times he tries, he keeps waking up back in his bed at 6:00AM on February 2nd.
Finally, he gives up on himself entirely and devotes himself to helping others. He even tries to save the life of an old homeless man, but eventually finds that no matter what he does, this man is destined to die on Groundhog Day. Yep, Phil has learned another valuable lesson: there are some things he just can't change.
Now that Phil has learned to forget about his ego and to accept the things he can't change, he starts to become a better person. This new approach to life pays off, as he wins the heart of Rita and finally escapes his imprisonment in Groundhog Day.
- The movie opens with some jaunty Dixieland music before we see our main character Phil Connors standing in front of a plain blue screen and giving the weather report. We can tell from his sarcastic and cocky tone that Phil is a bit of a jerk.
- The last thing Phil mentions in his weather report is that he'll be heading to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania the following day to visit the nation's oldest Groundhog Day festival. And guess what? The name of the famous groundhog is also Phil. How clever is that?
- We find out after the broadcast that Phil thinks his local news station is beneath him and he wants to spend as little time in Punxsutawney as possible.
- At this point, we also meet Phil's cameraman Larry and his new producer Rita. Both will be going with him to Punxsutawney.
- We get some more opening credits as Phil and his team drives into Punxsutawney. Phil mentions how dumb it is that so many people get worked up over a groundhog seeing its shadow. His producer Rita thinks it's cute and nice. So yeah, they're two very different types of people.
- They arrive at their hotel and Phil refuses to stay there. He says he stayed in this place two years ago and it was a "flea bag." Larry mentions that Phil is a bit of a primadonna. But Rita has booked a separate bed and breakfast for Phil, which makes Phil happy.
- After Phil is gone, Larry and Rita make fun of him behind his back.
- A bedside clock strikes 6 a.m. and the song "I Got You Babe" starts playing. Get used to this, because it's gonna happen a lot in this movie.
- Two radio announcers cut into the song and yammer about how a big blizzard is going to hit Punxsutawney. Then they ask the big question: Will the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow? That would mean six more weeks of winter. And no one wants that.
- After leaving his room, Phil runs into a random guy who asks him if he thinks there'll be an early spring. Phil sarcastically responds that he predicts March 21st will be the first day of spring (which it is).
- Phil enters the main breakfast hall of his bed and breakfast. The woman running the B&B tries to make small talk with him about the weather. But being a weatherman, Phil spouts off about all the minute details of the weather. He's once again being sarcastic and trying to avoid human contact as much as possible.
- The woman asks Phil if he'll be checking out that day and Phil answers that he has a 100% chance of leaving later that day.
- Outside, Phil passes a homeless man and makes a show of looking for change without actually making any effort.
- A random man in the street calls the name "Phil" and runs up to him. The guy's name is Ned Ryerson and he went to high school with Phil. But Phil has no clue who he is.
- Ned is an insurance salesman and he tries to sell Phil life insurance. But Phil openly says he has no interest talking to Ned.
- Ned doesn't take the hint and walks alongside Phil. Phil pulls away from Ned and steps into a deep ice puddle. Ned happily shouts from behind him, "Watch out for that first step. It's a doozie!"
- Phil arrives at the Punxsutawney Groundhog Festival in a brutal mood. He meets Rita, who talks about how great all the groundhog festivities have been. It sounds like she loves herself some old-fashioned wholesome fun. Phil basically just rolls his eyes and says that the people of this town are just a bunch of hicks.
- Phil gets up in front of the camera and gives a little spiel about Groundhog Day. When the camera cuts out he explains to Rita the dumb ritual of having the groundhog come out and trying to figure out whether it sees its shadow.
- The main ceremony guy of Punxsutawney (played by Bill Murray's brother!) pretends to speak to the groundhog for a moment and informs the crowd that unfortunately, they're in for six more weeks of winter. The crowd boos.
- Phil goes back on camera to sarcastically say how exciting his day has been. Rita his producer asks him to try it again more sincerely. Phil refuses and walks away.
- The team jumps in its van and heads out of Punxsutawney. But a coming blizzard shuts down the highway and forces them to turn around.
- Phil is so upset that he gets out of the van and runs to talk to the state trooper who's blocking the highway. Phil predicted on the news that the blizzard would miss this part of Pennsylvania and he has a tough time admitting he's wrong.
- The trooper tells Phil he can either head back to Punxsutawney or he can forge ahead and freeze to death. Phil says he needs a moment to think about it.
- Phil gets on a payphone to the weather department looking for answers. A man walks by and accidentally smacks him in the back of the head with a snow shovel.
- Phil heads to a bar back in Punxsutawney to drown his sorrows with booze. Rita and Larry show up to ask if he wants to go to the Groundhog Dinner. Phil answers that he already had groundhog for lunch.
- Phil heads back to his room to take a shower. But he's blasted by ice-cold water, which only improves his mood. (Sarcasm.)
- Phil heads into the hallway to ask the B&B owner if there's any hot water. She laughs and says of course not: there wouldn't be any today. We have no clue why there wouldn't be any hot water, and Phil doesn't bother following up. He just takes it as another sign of how annoying this town is.
- The movie cuts to a bedside alarm clock. It strikes 6 a.m. and the song "I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher starts playing. This all seems really familiar…
- Phil gets up and hears the radio announcers saying exactly what they did the morning before. He assumes the radio station messed up and is playing the tape from the day before.
- Something isn't sitting right with Phil when he hears the announcers say it's Groundhog Day. He runs to the window and looks out. The same truck he saw the day before makes the same turn and there's no snow on the ground.
- Which doesn't make sense, since there was a blizzard the night before. Wasn't there?
- Phil heads into the hallway and runs into the same man he saw the day before. The man asks him if he thinks it'll be an early spring. Phil throws him against the wall and tells him not to mess with him. He asks him what day it is and the man replies that it's Groundhog Day.
- Phil walks downstairs in a fog of confusion. He runs into the owner of the B&B, who asks him the exact same questions she asked him the day before. She says there's talk of a blizzard heading to Punxsutawney.
- Phil heads into the street and passes the same homeless man he passed the day before. Then he gets accosted by Ned Ryerson just like the day before. This time, Phil remembers his name.
- Phil says he isn't feeling well and Ned tries again to sell him life insurance. It's pretty clear by this point that Phil is reliving the exact same day as yesterday. Groundhog Day, to be exact.
- Phil gets to the Groundhog Day festival and tries to tell Rita he's having a problem. Rita asks him to do his Groundhog Day news piece and then they can talk.
- Phil does the first part of his piece, but leaves before he does the second half. He returns to his B&B room and gets in the shower. He has already forgotten that there's no hot water, so he ends up jolting himself with an ice cold shower… again.
- Phil gets on the phone to figure out when he can make a long distance call. The lines are apparently down and he has no way of contacting the world outside Punxsutawney.
- Phil breaks a pencil in half and puts the two pieces on his nightstand before falling asleep for the night.
- The bedside clock hits 6am and Sonny and Cher start singing. Phil looks on his nightstand and finds the pencil he broke the night before. But it's not broken anymore!
- Phil runs out of his room and passes the same man as the last two days. The man asks if he's off to see the groundhog, but Phil just runs past him. He runs clear out of the B&B without talking to anyone.
- Phil reaches the Groundhog Day celebrations and tells Rita he won't do the TV spot because he's already done it twice. He asks Rita to come meet him at a nearby diner once she's finished at the ceremonies.
- Phil sits with Rita in the diner. Phil is already on edge and he nearly loses it when a waiter drops a tray of dishes.
- Phil explains to Rita that he is reliving the same day over and over. Rita doesn't believe him and thinks he should get his head examined.
- Larry the cameraman shows up and says they should get going if they plan on staying ahead of the blizzard.
- Phil visits a doctor and gets his skull checked out. The doctor can't find anything wrong and tells Phil that he'll have to go to Pittsburgh for more intense scans. Phil already knows he'll never get to Pittsburgh because of the blizzard. The doctor recommends a psychiatrist.
- The psychiatrist has just heard Phil's story and he answers by saying that Phil's mental problem is "unusual." He says that most of his counseling is relationship counseling or addiction counseling. In other words: Phil might be too crazy for his expertise.
- The psychiatrist recommends that he and Phil meet again the next day. But Phil already knows there won't be a "next day."
- Phil is drinking coffee at a bowling alley. He sits with two local men and tells them the story of a day he had in the Virgin Islands where he met a woman and they had sex at sunset. He wants to know why he can't keep reliving a good day like that one.
- One of the local men tells him that he sounds like a "glass half empty" kind of guy.
- Phil asks the men what they would do if they were stuck in the same place where every day was the same and nothing they did mattered. One of the two men looks sad and answers that that's pretty much what his life is like anyway.
- Phil leaves the bowling alley with the two men, who are both drunk. Phil (who's sober) hops in with them and decides to drive.
- While driving, Phil asks the men what they would do if there were no tomorrow. They say that there would be no consequences and they could do whatever they wanted. Phil gets a glazed look in his eyes and says, "That's true."
- Phil drives through a mailbox and a cop car starts chasing him. Phil decides he's up for a car chase. He pulls onto some railroad tracks and drives down them with the cop car in pursuit.
- A train starts coming from the other direction, which concerns the guys in the car… but not Phil.
- Phil pulls off the tracks at the last second and laughs like a crazy person. He runs into two more cop cars and eventually crashes into a parking lot.
- A cop comes up to Phil's window and Phil tries to order fast food from him.
- We see Phil put into a jail cell. But by now, we know where this is going.
- Phil wakes up in his bed at the B&B. He jumps out of bed feeling super pumped and starts reciting the radio announcers' lines before they even come on.
- Downstairs, Phil answers every one of Mrs. Lancaster's questions before she can even ask them. Then he kisses her on the mouth and walks away.
- On the street, Ned Ryerson runs up to Phil. Phil punches him in the face and keeps walking. He also avoids the ice puddle this time.
- Phil sits down with Rita at the diner and gorges himself on milkshakes and baked goods. He has also decided to take up smoking and drinking tons of coffee. Rita asks him if he worries about his health, but he replies that he doesn't worry about anything anymore.
- Rita quotes some poetry from Sir Walter Scott talking about how selfish men like Phil end up dying alone with no one to mourn them. Phil just laughs and makes fun of her.
- Larry comes in and says they'll need to head out if they want to stay ahead of the weather. Phil says he'd like to stay and eat and offers some baked goods to Larry.
- When he gets up to walk out of the diner, Phil sits down next to an attractive woman and asks her questions about her name (which is Nancy), what high school she went to, and who her English teacher was.
- The clock strikes 6 a.m. and Phil gets up to run to the Groundhog Festival. He immediately runs into Nancy from the diner and uses the info he knows about her to start a conversation. He pretends that they went to high school together.
- The next time we see them, Phil and Nancy are making out on a couch in front of a fire.
- Phil accidentally calls Nancy Rita. But he gets out of it by saying that he loves Nancy and wants to marry her.
- Rather than being weirded out, Nancy finds this romantic. Phil accidentally calls her Rita again, but they keep going anyway.
- The next time we see Phil, he's using his knowledge of Groundhog Day to rob a bank truck.
- Phil pulls up to a movie theatre in a beautiful Mercedes dressed like a character from an old Clint Eastwood movie. It looks like he has tricked his date into going to a movie with him dressed in costume.
- Phil is with Rita back at the Groundhog Festival. He asks he what she'd do if she only had one day to live. She thinks that he's pulling her leg, but eventually lets Phil buy her a cup of coffee.
- Phil asks Rita what she wants out of life, and she answers that she wants career, love, family, children. Phil asks her if she's seeing anyone, and she answers that this question is too personal. She asks him what he wants and he answers that he wants someone like her.
- Rita lists the qualities of her ideal guy and Phil says he has all of them. She also says that she likes a man who can play an instrument and who loves his mother.
- Phil pulls something out of his news team's van in an attempt to keep it from starting. Then he walks into a bar where Rita is waiting and asks to buy her a drink (since they're not going anywhere). He orders and listens closely to Rita's drink order—vermouth with a twist.
- We see Phil walk back into the same bar replaying the same scene with Rita the next day. He orders a vermouth with a twist for himself. When Rita tells him this is her favorite drink, Phil says that the drink always makes him think of Rome. When asked what they should drink to, Phil answers, "To the groundhog!" Rita says that she usually drinks to world peace, and the conversation kind of fizzles after that.
- We see Phil take another crack at the drink-buying scene. This time he toasts to world peace and gets on Rita's good side.
- Phil and Rita walk around Punxsutawney and Phil shows her all the best shops, saying that he's spent a lot of time in this town. If only Rita knew how long.
- At dinner that night, Phil learns that Rita studied French poetry in college and laughs, saying that poetry is such a waste of time.
- Once again, he loses Rita's interest, so he does a redo and learns some French poetry that he can quote to her. It sounds like he's even learned to speak French entirely. You've got to start wondering how many times he's replayed this day.
- Phil and Rita work on building a snowman. Phil says that he hopes to build snowmen with his children some day.
- Some kids show up and start throwing snowballs. Phil vows to protect Rita from them no matter what.
- Rita falls in a snow bank and asks Phil to help her. They nearly kiss, and then the movie smash cuts to them slow dancing under a gazebo.
- Rita walks down the street with Phil arm in arm and tells him how amazed she's been to learn more about him.
- Phil invites Rita back to his B&B. She doesn't think she should go to his room, but he convinces her. They start kissing on his couch, but Rita says it's all too fast for her and she should go.
- Phil tells Rita he loves her, which makes her realize that their entire day together has been one huge setup on his part.
- It looks like Phil's definition of love is just being really good at tricking someone into liking you.
- We're back to seeing Rita and Phil build a snowman after a wonderful day together. It looks like Phil is going to try and play the night out differently this time. This time around, he really lays it on thick when he talks about how badly he wants to have kids. Maybe this'll make him seem less self-centered.
- We just see him get slapped by Rita over and over again. It looks like there's no way he's going to trick her into liking him enough in a single day to have sex with him.
- After getting slapped one too many times, Phil takes a walk and looks at a row of beautiful ice sculptures.
- Phil walks into the Groundhog Day Festival with a totally defeated look on his face. Rita asks him if he had a rough night, and he nods.
- We see the numbers on Phil's beside clock blown up to gigantic proportions. They flip over to 6 a.m. as if they're announcing Doomsday.
- Phil lays in bed staring at the ceiling, repeating the radio announcers' dialogue word for word in a cold, emotionless voice.
- Phil sits in a room of old people at the B&B and says the correct answer to every single question on Jeopardy! The people are impressed, but Phil doesn't even care. He even says answers before a question is asked. As the old people applaud, Phil drinks from a huge bottle of whiskey.
- Phil stands in front of the news camera at the Groundhog Festival and talks about how pitiful it is for people to stand out in the cold waiting for a giant rat.
- Phil looks to Rita and asks her if she wants to hear a truly accurate weather prediction. He follows by saying, "It's going to be cold, it's going to be grey, and it's going to last you for the rest of your life."
- Basically, the dude is losing his mind.
- The bedside clock strikes 6 a.m. and Sonny and Cher start singing. Phil reaches over and smashes the clock over and over in increasingly elaborate and destructive ways.
- Phil is back at the Groundhog Festival delivering his speech for the news camera. He says there's no way the winter can ever end as long as the groundhog keeps seeing his shadow. Now Phil thinks that his reliving the same day is somehow connected to the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. The only thing left to do is stop the groundhog once and for all.
- Rita and Larry go back to the van, where Rita says she's really worried about Phil.
- Phil kidnaps the groundhog and drives away in a red pickup truck. The cops are quickly on his tail, since the groundhog is a cherished local celebrity. Another car chase ensues.
- The police bottle Phil up in a limestone quarry. So Phil responds by driving off a cliff. Larry says he might still be all right… but then the truck blows up.
- Yup, the bedside clock strikes 6 a.m. and Phil is as good as new after driving off a cliff and exploding inside a truck. He's devastated to realize his plan didn't work. Now he just wants out. He wants to be dead.
- Phil's first order of business is to take the toaster from downstairs, run a nice bath, and get into it with the toaster plugged in. He electrocutes and kills himself, knocking out power to the rest of the building.
- Next time we see Phil, he's jumping in front of a truck to kill himself. Then he jumps off the top of a tall building.
- Rita and Larry come to the morgue to identify Phil's body. Larry insincerely talks about what a great guy Phil was.
- Phil sits down for lunch at the diner with Rita and tells her that he's a god. He tells Rita about all the insane things he has lived through.
- Rita tells Phil to get over himself and that he's not a god. Meanwhile, the diner's waitress tries to get their orders.
- To prove himself, Phil walks Rita around the diner and tells her all kinds of personal information about everyone there. Even when Rita asks random questions he can come up with the answers. He knows everything about everyone.
- Rita says this is all a bunch of tricks. But Phil argues that maybe that's how the real God works too. Maybe he's just been around for so long that he knows everything. He even knows that a waiter is about to drop a tray of dishes, and sure enough it happens.
- Rita sits back down with Phil and asks him if he knows everything about her. Phil gives a heartfelt speech about all the things he's learned about Rita.
- Rita asks one more time how Phil is doing this, and he tells her again that he wakes up every day on Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney. He writes something down on a napkin and asks Rita not to let Larry take her away.
- Larry comes in and says they'll need to head out if they want to stay ahead of the weather. Rita opens Phil's napkin and sees that he has written what Larry just said, word for word.
- Rita and Phil walk through a town square. Rita believes him now and thinks it will be a good idea for her to follow him around and to witness what happens to him.
- Rita and Phil end up back in Phil's room throwing cards at a hat. Phil is able to get every one into the hat. Rita asks him how long it takes to get good at this skill, and Phil answers that it takes six months practicing four to five hours a day. So yeah, he's been in Punxsutawney a looonnnng time.
- Phil is sad because tomorrow, Rita won't remember any of their time together and she'll wake up the next day thinking he's a jerk again.
- Rita says that maybe Phil isn't cursed but blessed. She says sometimes she'd love the chance to do things over. But then again, she hasn't been stuck in the same day for as long as Phil has.
- Rita hugs Phil on the bed and the clock strikes midnight. She celebrates because Phil is still there. But Phil says that midnight doesn't have any special significance. Rita just assumed that everything reset at midnight. It's 6 a.m. that's key.
- 3 a.m. rolls around and Phil and Rita are still hanging out. Rita is having a really tough time staying awake though.
- Phil falls asleep next to Rita while telling her how much love he has for her. Rita's half-asleep while he says it.
- It's crushing, but 6 a.m. strikes and Sonny and Cher start singing. Phil is alone in bed again.
- Phil heads back into the street and passes the same homeless man he always does. This time he stops and gives the man a big wad of cash.
- Phil shows up with coffee and snacks for Rita and Larry. It looks like he's going to dedicate himself to being nice.
- Phil sits in a diner reading a thick old book. He overhears some pretty piano music on the radio and pauses to listen.
- In the next frame, Phil walks up to a woman's house and asks for piano lessons. The woman says she's with a student at the moment, but Phil offers her a thousand dollars and she kicks the poor kid out.
- Phil wakes up the next morning and greets the guy outside his B&B room door so happily that he leaves the guy feeling positively refreshed.
- Phil is back at the piano teacher's house struggling through some simple scales and hurting the woman's ears. Phil doesn't seem too self-conscious though. He knows he's got nothing but time.
- Next, we see Phil creating a beautiful ice sculpture of an angel. This is apparently one of the many skills he's learned with all his free time.
- Now Phil's back at the piano teacher's struggling through a classical song. He's definitely getting better.
- Ned Ryerson runs up to Phil on the street. But this time Phil greets him extremely intimately (in a romantic way). He asks Ned to call in sick so they can be together, and Ned gets really uncomfortable. Ned says he's got to get going and runs away.
- Walking down the street one night, Phil sees the homeless man he passes every day on the street. The man doesn't look so good, so Phil takes him to a hospital. He says a curious thing when he sees the guy, though. He says, "Hello, father. Remember me?" So the homeless old man might have some ability to remember Phil day after day. We're never sure though.
- At the hospital, Phil finds out from a nurse that the old man has passed away from natural causes. Phil demands to see the man's medical chart and to know what he died from. He figures that he'll have a shot at saving the guy next time.
- The next time we see Phil, he's taking the old man out for a nice meal. It doesn't make a difference though. The old man still dies every time despite Phil's efforts. It looks like Phil has finally run into something he can't change.
- Phil is back at the Groundhog Day ceremonies with a bunch of people gathered behind him. He gives a really poetic and heartwarming speech about the great people of Punxsutawney, which makes him a bit of a hero to those who hear him.
- After he's done, Rita asks him if he wants to grab a cup of coffee. He says he has to take a rain check because he has some errands to run.
- Phil walks down a neighborhood street and checks his watch. He runs beneath a tree just in time to catch a falling child.
- Next, some old ladies get a flat tire. And before they know it, Phil is jacking them up with a spare tire ready for them.
- Now Phil is walking into a restaurant where the head of the Groundhog Day festivities is choking to death. Phil gives him the Heimlich maneuver and saves his life.
- Larry is at a bar trying to hit on Nancy (from earlier in the movie) by telling her about his job as a cameraman. She is clearly not interested, but Larry doesn't take the hint.
- Larry and Nancy run into Rita, who asks where Phil is. Nancy already seems to know that Phil is in the party.
- Sure enough, Phil is at the party playing some expert-level rock and roll piano. It looks like all those afternoons of practice have paid off.
- When Phil finishes a song, he walks down to Rita and seamlessly steps into a slow dance.
- While they dance, a bunch of people walk up to Phil and thank him for the nice things he did that day.
- The head of the Groundhog Festivities heads up to the podium to announce the beginning of the charity bachelor's auction.
- Phil Connors heads to the front of the room to be auctioned off. After listening to some bidding, Rita makes the highest bid by far.
- After Phil is gone, Larry runs up to the front of the room. An old woman bids twenty-five cents and ends up winning the bid.
- On their way out of the party, Phil and Rita run into Ned Ryerson. Ned says that this is the best day of his life because Phil has apparently bought every type of insurance known to humanity from Ned that afternoon.
- Phil and Rita hang out in the cold while Phil works on an ice sculpture. Phil turns the sculpture toward her and it's a sculpture of her face in ice. He walks up to her and says that no matter what happens tomorrow, he's happy in this moment and he loves her.
- Rita responds that she thinks she's happy too.
- They walk away together and the scene fades out.
- The clock hits 6 a.m. and Sonny and Cher start singing. Phil wakes up feeling terrible. But then something happens. The announcers say something different than they always do. Then a woman's arm reaches across the bed and shuts off the radio. Rita is still in bed with Phil, meaning that the curse has been broken!
- Phil asks why Rita stayed the night with him. She answers because he asked her to.
- Phil runs to the window and looks down at the street. It's totally empty and covered with snow.
- Phil jumps back into bed and cuddles with Rita, asking if there's anything he can do for her.
- The two of them head outside and Phil talks about how beautiful the world is. Phil closes the movie by saying, "Let's live here." Now that he has the power to leave Punxsutawney, he doesn't want to.
- Phil and Rita head down the street hand in hand.
- The End!