Groundhog Day (film)

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Groundhog Day

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Harold Ramis
Produced by Trevor Albert
Harold Ramis
Written by Danny Rubin (story)
Danny Rubin and
Harold Ramis (screenplay)
Starring Bill Murray,
Andie MacDowell,
Chris Elliott,
Stephen Tobolowsky,
Brian Doyle-Murray
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography John Bailey
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) February 12, 1993
Running time 101 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14,600,000

Groundhog Day is a 1993 comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. It was written by Ramis and Danny Rubin, and based on a story by Rubin.

In the film, Murray plays Phil Connors, an egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during a hated assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event (February 2) in Punxsutawney, finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. After indulging in all manner of hedonistic pursuits, then going through a suicidal streak, he begins to reexamine his life and priorities.

In 2006, Groundhog Day was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." It is listed as the 174th most popular movie at the Internet Movie Database as of Groundhog Day, 2009.


[edit] Plot

Self-centered TV meteorologist Phil Connors, his producer Rita, and cameraman Larry from the fictional Pittsburgh television station WPBH-TV9 travel to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities with Punxsutawney Phil. Having grown tired of this assignment, Phil grudgingly gives his report and attempts to return back to Pittsburgh when a blizzard that he predicted would miss the area shuts down the main roads. Phil and his team are forced to stay in town an extra day.

Phil wakes up to find that he is reliving February 2 again. Everyone else is repeating the same actions as the day before, seemingly unaware of the time loop, though Phil remains aware of the events of the previous day. At first he is confused, but, when the loop continues, he starts to try to take advantage of the situation without fear of long-term consequences: learning secrets from the town's residents, seducing women, stealing money, and driving drunk. However, his attempts to get closer to Rita are repeatedly shut down. With each passage of the loop, Phil becomes despondent; during one loop, he kidnaps Punxsutawney Phil and after a long police chase, drives over a cliff, appearing to kill both himself and the groundhog. However, Phil wakes up in the next loop and finds that nothing has changed; further attempts at suicide are just as fruitless as he continues to find himself back at the start of February 2.

Phil continues to try to learn more about Rita, and when he reveals his situation to her and the knowledge he's gained about the town's residents, she opens up to him and suggests he try to use his situation to help benefit the town. Phil uses her advice and the time loop to help as many people around town as possible, as well as bettering himself, such as by learning to play jazz piano and speaking French. Phil, now engrossed with the town's celebration, is able to admit his love to Rita, and she accepts and returns his love. After the evening dance, the two retire together to Phil's room.

Phil wakes up the next day, and finds the time loop has broken; it is now February 3 and Rita is still in bed with him. As the team prepare to return to Pittsburgh, Phil and Rita talk about eventually settling down in Punxsutawney, but they'll "rent to start."

[edit] Cast

[edit] Development of the movie

"Ned's Corner" commemorative plaque, Woodstock, Illinois
Tip Top Cafe - now Bella's Gelateria, Woodstock, Illinois

According to the director's commentaries from the DVD, there are several differences between the original script for Groundhog Day, as written by Danny Rubin, and the film as it was actually released, because of changes made by the film's director, Harold Ramis. In the original script the film began in the middle of the narrative, without explaining how or why Phil was repeating Groundhog Day. However, the filmmakers became concerned that the audience would feel cheated without seeing Phil's growing realization of the nature of the time loop. Rubin had also originally envisioned Andie MacDowell's Rita reliving Groundhog Day with Phil and wished to portray the pair as being stuck in the time loop for far longer than in the final film, possibly for thousands of years (Phil tracked time by reading a page of a book each day and had managed to read through the entire public library). Consequently, the love story was less developed in the original script than in the final movie.

There was also a second draft script, which gave an explicit reason for the time loop — a voodoo spell cast by a woman who worked at the television station and was involved with Phil before he rejected her — that did not appear in the final film.

The location for most of the shooting of the film was not actually Punxsutawney but rather Woodstock, Illinois (only a short drive from Murray's hometown of Wilmette). The inhabitants of Woodstock helped in the film's production by bringing out heaters to warm the cast and crew in cold weather. In Punxsutawney, the actual Gobbler's Knob is located in a rural area about 2 miles (3 km) east of town. However, the location used in Woodstock gives the impression that the Knob is inside the town. The Tip Top Cafe in Woodstock, where much of the film takes place, was originally a set created for the film, but local demand led to its opening as a real cafe. It eventually closed down, but a "Tip Top Bistro" had taken its place. This, too, eventually closed, and the location is now home to Bella's Gelateria which serves coffee and Italian ice cream.[1]

Some of the film was also shot in Indiana, Pennsylvania, with aerial shots also being filmed in Pittsburgh. An aerial view of the WPBH van shows the buildings for the Pittsburgh Press and Post-Gazette newspapers, as well as Gateway Center, the home of KDKA-TV and KDKA Radio.[citation needed]

[edit] Reception

Groundhog Day was a solid performer in its initial release, grossing $70.9M in North America and ranking 13th among films released in 1993,[2] but did not achieve blockbuster status. It found a second life on home video and cable. The film is number thirty-four on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Funniest Movies, and was named the number eight Fantasy film in AFI's 10 Top 10. Roger Ebert has revisited it in his "Great Movies" series. After giving it a three-star rating in his original review, Ebert acknowledged in his "Great Movies" essay that, like many viewers, he had initially underestimated the film's many virtues and only came to truly appreciate it through repeated viewings. In 2009, the American literary theorist and legal scholar Stanley Fish named the film as among the ten best American films ever.[3]

The film is number 32 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies". In Total Film's 1990s special issue, Groundhog Day was deemed the best film of 1993 (the year that saw the release of Schindler's List, The Piano and The Fugitive). In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted it the seventh greatest comedy film of all time. The Writers Guild of America ranked the screenplay #27 on their list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written.[4] It currently garners a 96% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. On Metacritic, the movie has a score of 72 (Generally favourable reviews) out of 100.

[edit] Influence

The phrase "Groundhog Day" has entered common use as a reference to an unpleasant situation that continually repeats, or seems to, until one spiritually transcends it.[5] It is also used in this sense in the UK, perhaps more commonly than in its original meaning since 2 February is not celebrated as Groundhog Day in the UK. (Similar holidays, Candlemas and Imbolc, have been celebrated on this date in many parts of Europe, though without the references to groundhogs.) At least one British-English dictionary marks the Groundhog Day holiday as a North American usage, with no such annotation for the repetitious meaning.[6]

[edit] Philosophy

Groundhog Day is a tale of self-improvement, to look inside oneself and realize that the only satisfaction in life comes from turning outward and concerning oneself with others rather than concentrating solely on one's own wants and desires. As such, the film has become a favorite of Buddhist [7] and Jewish leaders alike because they see its themes of selflessness and rebirth as a reflection of their own spiritual messages. It has also, in the Christian tradition, been seen as a representation of Purgatory. It has even been dubbed by some religious leaders as the "most spiritual film of our time."[8]

[edit] Military

Referring to unpleasant, unchanging, repetitive situations as “Groundhog Day” was widespread throughout the U.S. military very soon after the movie’s release in February 1993. A magazine article about the aircraft carrier USS America mentions its use by sailors in September 1993[9]. Around the same time, the movie was a favorite of soldiers in Mogadishu, who identified with the protagonist’s situation. By March 1994, there was a defensive zone in Somalia called Groundhog Station. In February 1994, the crew of the USS Saratoga referred to its deployment in the Adriatic Sea, in support of Bosnia operations, as Groundhog Station. A speech by President Clinton in January 1996 specifically referred to the movie and the use of the phrase by military personnel in Bosnia.[10] Even today in the Iraq War, "Groundhog Day" is American military slang for any day of a tour of duty in Iraq.[11]

The film was a favorite one among the Rangers deployed for Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia in 1993, because they saw the film as a metaphor of their own situation, waiting long between raids and monotonous long days[12]

[edit] Politics

The term is also entering the real world lexicon as witnessed by the following comments from R. Nicholas Burns, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, on talks on the Israel/Lebanon conflict in August 2006. "We’d go home at 10 or 11 at night and say, ‘Tomorrow will be a better day.’ But the next day was Groundhog Day all over again."[13] Member of Parliament Dennis Skinner likened British Prime Minister Tony Blair's treatment following the 2004 Hutton Inquiry to Groundhog Day. "[The affair] was, he said, like Groundhog Day, with the prime minister's critics demanding one inquiry, then another inquiry, then another inquiry." Blair responded approvingly, "I could not have put it better myself. Indeed I did not put it better myself."[14]

[edit] Economics

The movie has been used by economists to explain the economic theory of "perfectly competitive equilibrium based on perfect information."[15], The Economics of Groundhog Day

[edit] Television

British comedy quiz show Shooting Stars used the question "Who was the star of Groundhog Day?", to which contestant Dave Lee Travis replied "Bill Murray". Host Bob Mortimer then asked the question again and Travis answered it again, and this repeated with Travis ever more irate until he eventually understood the joke, busted up laughing and offered "The groundhog!"

[edit] Music

Rock band The Dismemberment Plan derived its name from dialogue spoken by the Tobolowsky character Ned Ryerson.

The Welsh rock band, the Manic Street Preachers, recorded a song in 2001 entitled "Groundhog Days" which begins with the lyrics, "Waking up again/To the same old thing/To the same old songs/To the same old pain..."

In August 2003, Stephen Sondheim responded to a question about his next project that he was interested in something like a theme and variations - possibly a musical adaptation of Groundhog Day.[16][17]

Heavy Metal Band Mastodon make a reference to 'Groundhog Day' in their DVD 'The Making of Blood Mountain' when they describe the recording process as reliving the same day over and over again.

The song "Ticket outta Loserville" (2005) by british band Son of Dork starts with "When I go to sleep I pray / I'm waking up to 'I got you babe' / Like the guy from Groundhog Day / Just wanna live forever this way".

[edit] Sports

Toronto Blue Jays' pitcher Roy Halladay recently compared his team's losing ways to the movie 'Groundhog Day'. This is his statement: "That’s the hardest thing. We sit down every spring training and we talk about the same things and it's almost like a little bit of 'Groundhog Day.' That definitely gets frustrating, you want to talk about why we're succeeding, what we've done to help us get to the point of where we're at, and we just haven't done that."

[edit] Media and Print

  • The film's cult following has made Phil Connors one of Murray's best-known roles. In a recorded holiday greeting played on Air America Radio, the actor wishes the listener a "Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year and Happy Groundhog Day."
  • An Italian remake, È già ieri, moved the action to a tiny island in the Canary Islands archipelago, on August 13. Instead of groundhogs, the protagonist is there to cover the migration of storks.
  • During Groundhog Day in the video game Animal Crossing, a character mentions that Groundhog Day was good enough to have a movie made about it.
  • The Stargate SG-1 episode "Window of Opportunity" (itself about a time loop) has Jack O'Neill refer to the film, saying "So you can be king of Groundhog Day".
  • In book eight of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi series, Kyon mentions that he might end up repeating his first year of high school for the rest of his life "Groundhog's Day style".
  • The BBC released a docu-drama called End Day which depicts a scientist who is unknowingly caught in a loop of different apocalyptic and disastrous events including a massive tsunami, asteroid impact, a supervolcano, a global pandemic, and a black hole-like phenomenon. At the start of each loop, the scientist hails a cab near a London cinema, which displays the words "Groundhog Day, now showing", an obvious reference to the inspiration behind the loop concept used in the programme.
  • The episode of Xena: Warrior Princess titled "Been There, Done That" involves Xena stuck in a time loop until she figures out how to unite two lovers. The episode is a direct homage, going so far as having the wake up line "Rise & shine" spoken by one of the characters at the start of each repeated day.
  • The third-season episode of Supernatural titled "Mystery Spot" involves Sam reliving the same day over and over, continually having to deal with Dean's death. In several of the time loops when Sam explains his predicament to Dean, Dean says it's "like Groundhog Day". More direct references include Sam awakening each time to the same song ("Heat of the Moment" by Asia) and Dean announcing "Rise and shine, Sammy!"
  • The premise of the ABC television series Day Break starring Taye Diggs was promoted as a "re imagining" of the Groundhog Day premise, as the lead character is also repeating the same day over and over.
  • A movie on Nickelodeon entitled The Last Day of Summer is about a boy stuck in a time loop on the last day of summer.
  • In the 6th season episode of The X-Files entitled "Monday", a woman is forced to repeat the same day over and over until she finds a way to get FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully to end the day correctly.
  • A February 2nd, 2009 episode of G4's Attack of the Show! also copied the film's plot, in which hosts Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn welcomed viewers to the show and presented the show's "Around the Net" segment over and over again in each part of the show. They were not able to finish the countdown until that day's number one video, which was a Super Bowl XLIII ad from starring Ed McMahon and M.C. Hammer, appeared at the end of the show.

[edit] Awards and accolades

In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Groundhog Day was acknowledged as the eighth best film in the fantasy genre.[18][19]

American Film Institute recognition

[edit] Details from the film

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ ""Woodstock, Illinois - Groundhog Day Movie Town"". Retrieved on 2007-04-08. 
  2. ^ "1993 Domestic Grosses". 
  3. ^ Stanley Fish (2009-1-4). "The 10 Best American Movies". New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-1-6. 
  4. ^ ""The 101 Greatest Screenplays"". Writers Guild of America. Retrieved on 2007-03-13. 
  5. ^ "The spiritual power of repetitive form: Steps toward transcendence in Groundhog Day." Suzanne Daughton, Critical Studies in Mass Communication. Annandale: Jun 1996. Vol. 13, Iss. 2; pg. 138, 17 pgs
  6. ^ Collins Main Dictionary Definitions""Groundhog Day"". Retrieved on 2006-12-21. 
  7. ^ Schindler, Paul. ""Groundhog Day The Movie, Buddhism and Me"". Retrieved on 2008-06-29. 
  8. ^ Buncombe, Andrew. The Independent (London, England), February 2 2004. ""Is this the greatest story ever told?"". Retrieved on 2007-01-07. 
  9. ^ "Diplomacy's Gunboat,"U.S. News and World Report, February 22, 1994
  10. ^ Remarks to American Troops at Tuzla Airfield, Bosnia-Herzegovina, January 13, 1996
  11. ^ ""Back From Iraq at the Great American Diner"". Retrieved on 2007-04-08. 
  12. ^ Bowden, [[Black Hawk Down (book)|]], Corgi edition, 2000 p.534.
  13. ^ Hoge, Warren. The New York Times, August 14, 2006. ""U.S. policy shift spurred UN drive for truce."". Retrieved on 2006-09-01. 
  14. ^ Nick Assinder (2004-02-04). "Politics: Prime Minister's Questions". BBC News. Retrieved on 2008-05-22. 
  15. ^ "Austrian Economics in Action: The economics of Groundhog Day." D W MacKenzie. Review - Institute of Public Affairs. Melbourne: Mar 2007. Vol. 59, Iss. 1; pg. 20
  16. ^ ""A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Broadway"". Institute for Studies In American Music. 2003. Retrieved on October 10 2006. 
  17. ^ ""Sondheim plans changes to Bounce"". The Stephen Sondheim Society. 2003. Retrieved on October 10 2006. 
  18. ^ American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". Retrieved on 2008-06-18. 
  19. ^ "Top 10 Fantasy". American Film Institute. Retrieved on 2008-06-18. 

[edit] Further reading

[edit] External links

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Groundhog Day review by Roger Ebert (from 1993-02-12)

Groundhog Day review by Roger Ebert (from 2005-01-30)

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