Groundhog Day (film)

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Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Harold Ramis
Produced by
  • Trevor Albert
  • Harold Ramis
Screenplay by
Story by Danny Rubin
Starring
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography John Bailey
Edited by Pembroke J. Herring
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates February 12, 1993
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14.6 million[1]
Box office $70.9 million (North America)[2]

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

Murray plays Phil Connors, an arrogant and egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again. After indulging in hedonism and numerous suicide attempts, he begins to re-examine his life and priorities.

In 2006, the film was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[3]

Plot[edit]

On February 1, misanthropic TV meteorologist Phil Connors (Murray), news producer Rita Hanson (MacDowell), and cameraman Larry (Elliott), of the fictional Pittsburgh television station WPBH-TV 9 travel to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities. The following morning, Phil, who doesn't like the assignment or Punxsutawney, grudgingly gives his report on the festivities. He then gets his team on the road back to Pittsburgh, but a blizzard shuts down all travel. The team is forced to return to Punxsutawney and stay another night.

Phil wakes up to find that he is reliving February 2. The day plays out exactly as it did before, with no one but Phil aware of the time loop. At first he is confused, but, when the phenomenon continues on subsequent days, he decides to take advantage of the situation with no fear of long-term consequences: he learns secrets from the town's residents, seduces women, steals money, drives recklessly, and gets thrown in jail. However, his attempts to get closer to Rita, to whom he has become attracted, repeatedly fail.

Eventually, Phil becomes depressed and tries more and more drastically to end the time loop; he gives ridiculous and offensive reports on the festival and eventually kidnaps Punxsutawney Phil and, after a police chase, drives off a high overlook into a quarry, killing both himself and the groundhog. However, Phil wakes up and finds that nothing has changed; further attempts at suicide are just as fruitless, as he continues to find himself waking at six o'clock on the morning of February 2 with the clock radio on his nightstand playing "I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher.

When Phil explains the situation to Rita, she spends the day with him and into the early morning hours. But they fall asleep together and he awakens again stuck in the time loop. Inspired by her positive outlook, Phil endeavors to improve himself. He begins to use his by-now vast experience of the day to help as many people around town as possible. He uses the time to learn, among other things, how to play the piano, to sculpt ice, and speak French.

Eventually, Phil is able to befriend almost everyone he meets during the day, using his experiences to save lives, to help townspeople, and ultimately to get closer to Rita. He crafts a report on the Groundhog Day celebration so eloquent that all the other stations turn their microphones to him. After the town's evening dance, Rita "buys" Phil at the event's bachelor auction. Phil makes a snow sculpture of Rita's face and they kiss for the first time. The moment they kiss, the snow begins to fall, which had never happened before, implying to the audience that their kiss has broken the time loop. They retire to his room. He wakes the next morning and finds the time loop is, in fact, broken; it is now February 3 and Rita is still with him. They walk outside and Phil declares that they shall live there (renting initially).

Cast[edit]

Andie MacDowell with groundhog, 2008

Production[edit]

"Ned's Corner" commemorative plaque, Woodstock, IL

According to Ramis' DVD commentary, Danny Rubin's original script and the film as it was actually released are different in several ways. The original script began mid narrative, without explaining how or why Phil was repeating Groundhog Day. The filmmakers believed the audience would feel cheated without seeing Phil's growing realization of the nature of the time loop. In addition, the original ended with Phil and Rita waking on February the 3rd and finding that Rita was now trapped in her own time loop.

Tip Top Cafe, Woodstock, IL.

Reports regarding how long Phil is trapped in the time loop vary widely. Ramis stated in the DVD commentary that he believes 10 years pass. However, in an e-mail response sent to Heeb magazine, Ramis said, "I think the 10-year estimate is too short. It takes at least 10 years to get good at anything, and allotting for the down time and misguided years he spent, it had to be more like 30 or 40 years."[4]

According to Stephen Tobolowsky, Ramis told him that the entire progress of Groundhog Day covered 10,000 years. "I always thought that there were nine days represented [in the film], and Danny Rubin, the writer, said that he felt something like 23 days were represented in the movie, [but they lasted] over 10,000 years."[5]

During the filming, Ramis and Murray, despite their longtime collaboration, had a personal and professional falling out which remained unresolved for more than 10 years.[6][7]

Location[edit]

344 Fremont Street at Madison Street

The shooting location[8][9] for most of the film was Woodstock, Illinois, a far northwest suburb of Chicago about 10 mi (16 km) from the Wisconsin border. Residents of the city helped in the production by bringing out heaters to warm the cast and crew in cold weather. The real Gobbler's Knob is located in a rural area about 2 mi (3.2 km) east of Punxsutawney, but the film location gives the impression that it is in the town. The Tip Top Cafe, where much of the film takes place, was originally a set created for the film, but local demand led to its remaining open as a real cafe. After it closed, the Tip Top Bistro took its place, eventually to be replaced by Bella's Gelateria.[8]

Final scene[edit]

Stephen Tobolowsky at Groundhog Day 2010 in Punxsutawney recalled the making of the final scene:

He [Bill Murray] said, "I refuse to shoot this scene until I know how I am dressed. Am I wearing the clothes I wore the night before? Am I wearing p.j.'s? Am I not wearing that?" That is, what happened that night between him and Andie [MacDowell]? So, he refused to shoot it. Harold Ramis, the director, had not thought of this question, and he didn't know. So he took a vote from the cast and crew as to what Bill was wearing. Is he wearing the clothes from the night before, or is he wearing pajamas? And it was a tie, a tie vote, so Bill still refused to shoot the scene.

Then one girl in the movie—it was her first film—she was assistant set director. She raised her hand and said, "He is absolutely wearing the clothes he wore the night before. If he is not wearing the clothes he wore the night before, it will ruin the movie. That's my vote." So Harold Ramis said, "Then that's what we are going to do." I've never told anybody that behind-the-scenes story, so keep that a secret now.[5]

Reception[edit]

The film was released to generally favorable reviews, holding a score of 72 out of 100 at Metacritic.[10] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave it a B–[11] and Desson Howe of The Washington Post noted that even though the film is a good Bill Murray vehicle, "'Groundhog' will never be designated a national film treasure by the Library of Congress".[12] The film was selected by the National Film Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress in 2006.[13]

Among positive reviews, Janet Maslin of The New York Times called it "a particularly witty and resonant comedy"[14] and Hal Hinson of The Washington Post called it "the best American comedy since 'Tootsie.'".[15] It was a solid performer in its initial release, grossing $70.9 million in North America and ranking 13th among films released in 1993.[16] It was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, but lost to Jurassic Park.[17]

The popularity and critical consensus of Groundhog Day has increased significantly since its initial release, with the film currently holding a 97% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and being aired numerous times on television.[18] The film is regarded as a contemporary classic. Roger Ebert revisited it in his "Great Movies" series.[19] After giving it a three-star rating in his original review,[20] 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.

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 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.[21][22] In 2009, American literary theorist Stanley Fish named the film as among the ten best American films ever.[23]

Awards[edit]

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.[24][25]

American Film Institute recognition

Legacy[edit]

The phrase "Groundhog Day" has entered common use as a reference to an unpleasant situation that continually repeats, or seems to.[28]

In the military, referring to unpleasant, unchanging, repetitive situations as "Groundhog Day" was widespread 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.[29] The film was a favorite 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 periods between raids and monotonous long days.[30] In February 1994, the crew of the aircraft carrier 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.[31] Fourteen years after the movie was released, "Groundhog Day" was noted as American military slang for any day of a tour of duty in Iraq.[32]

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."[33]

Groundhog Day has been considered a tale of self-improvement which emphasizes the need 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. The phrase also has become a shorthand illustration for the concept of spiritual transcendence.[34][35] As such, the film has become a favorite of Buddhists[36][37] because they see its themes of selflessness and rebirth as a reflection of their own spiritual messages. It has also, in the Catholic 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".[38]

Theologian Michael P. Pholey, writing for Touchstone Magazine, suggests that since "deciphering which" of the proposed philosophical and religious "interpretations is correct is no easy task, especially since" Harold Ramis "has ambiguous religious beliefs (he is an agnostic raised Jewish and married to a Buddhist)" and the film's commentators "seem wedded to a single hermeneutical lens, forcing them to ignore contradictory data...A more fruitful approach, I suggest, would involve following all of the clues, clues that lead not only to religion but also to the great conversation of philosophy. Once we do so, Groundhog Day may be seen for what it is: a stunning allegory of moral, intellectual, and even religious excellence in the face of postmodern decay, a sort of Christian-Aristotelian Pilgrim’s Progress for those lost in the contemporary cosmos."[39]

An article by economist D. W. MacKenzie published on the website of the Ludwig von Mises Institute used the movie to illustrate a critique of mainstream economics, arguing that "In economic terms the final reliving of the day constitutes what economists refer to as a perfectly competitive equilibrium based on perfect information. ... In the hypothetical world of Phil Connors in Groundhog Day all of the parameters of the 'game' he is playing are reset back to their original position every night while he sleeps. In the real world there are no constants."[40]

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.[41][42] In a 2008 live chat he said that "to make a musical of Groundhog Day would be to gild the lily. It cannot be improved."[43] In January 2014, it was revealed that a musical project was being worked on by Tim Minchin and Matthew Warchus.[44]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Groundhog Day - Box Office Data, DVD and Blu-ray Sales, Movie News, Cast and Crew Information". The Numbers. Retrieved November 30, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Groundhog Day (1993)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Films Added to National Film Registry for 2006" (Press release). Library of Congress. December 27, 2006. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Harold Ramis's Response to the Groundhog Day Timeline Study". Heeb. Archived from the original on 2009-08-18. 
  5. ^ a b Jekelek, Jan (2010-02-11). "In Depth With 'Groundhog Day's' Ned Ryerson, Actor Stephen Tobolowsky". Epoch Times. Retrieved 2013-03-23. 
  6. ^ Friend, Tad (2009-01-07). "Annals of Hollywood: Comedy First". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  7. ^ Heisler, Steve. "Harold Ramis | Film". A.V. Club. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  8. ^ a b "Woodstock, New York - Groundhog Day Movie Town". Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  9. ^ "Woodstock, set of Groundhog Day". Retrieved 2011-02-25. 
  10. ^ "Groundhog Day - Metacritic". Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  11. ^ "Entertainment Weekly Movie Reviews: Groundhog Day". 1993-02-12. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  12. ^ "Washington Post: "Groundhog Day"". The Washington Post. 1993-02-12. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  13. ^ "National Film Preservation Board, December 27, 2006". Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  14. ^ Maslin, Janet (1993-02-12). "New York Times Movie Review: Groundhog Day". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  15. ^ "Washington Post: "Groundhog Day"". The Washington Post. 1993-02-12. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  16. ^ "1993 Domestic Grosses". 
  17. ^ "1994 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. Archived from the original on 2011-05-07. Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  18. ^ "Groundhog Day - Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  19. ^ Roger Ebert's Great Movies Review of Groundhog Day January 30, 2005
  20. ^ Roger Ebert's Review of Groundhog Day February 12, 1993
  21. ^ "The 101 Greatest Screenplays". Writers Guild of America. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  22. ^ Savage, Sophia (February 27, 2013). "WGA Lists Greatest Screenplays, From 'Casablanca' and 'Godfather' to 'Memento' and 'Notorious'". Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  23. ^ Stanley Fish (2009-01-04). "The 10 Best American Movies". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  24. ^ American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  25. ^ "Top 10 Fantasy". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  26. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  27. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  28. ^ "Hurricane Fatigue". USA Today. 2004-09-26. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  29. ^ "Diplomacy's Gunboat". U.S. News & World Report. 1994-02-22. Retrieved 2010-05-10. [dead link]
  30. ^ Bowden, Black Hawk Down, Corgi edition, 2000 p.534.
  31. ^ Remarks to American Troops at Tuzla Airfield, Bosnia-Herzegovina, January 13, 1996
  32. ^ "'Embrace the Suck' and More Military Speak". Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  33. ^ Nick Assinder (2004-02-04). "Politics: Prime Minister's Questions". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  34. ^ "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
  35. ^ Kuczynski, Alex (December 7, 2003). "Groundhog Almighty". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 7, 2003. Retrieved 2009-10-10. Angela Zito, a co-director of the Center for Religion and Media at New York University, screens the film for students in her Buddhism class. She said that "Groundhog Day" perfectly illustrates the Buddhist notion of samsara, the continuing cycle of rebirth that Buddhists regard as suffering that humans must try to escape (a belief, Dr. Zito noted, that was missed by executives at Guerlain, who, searching for an exotic name, introduced a perfume called Samsara in the 1980s, overlooking the negative connotations). "Groundhog Day," Dr. Zito said, is a cinematic version of the teachings in Mahayana Buddhism, known as "the greater vehicle." "In Mahayana," she said, "nobody ever imagines they are going to escape samsara until everybody else does. That is why you have bodhisattvas, who reach the brink of nirvana, and stop and come back and save the rest of us. Bill Murray is the bodhisattva. He is not going to abandon the world. On the contrary, he is released back into the world to save it." 
  36. ^ Paul Schindler. "Groundhog Day The Movie, Buddhism and Me". schindler.org. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  37. ^ Shambhala Sun. "And If He Sees His Shadow...". 
  38. ^ Andrew Buncombe (2004-02-02). "Is this the greatest story ever told?". The Independent (London: isgodimaginary.com). Retrieved 2013-01-30. 
  39. ^ Pholey, Michael (April 2004). "“Phil’s Shadow”". Touchstone 17 (3). Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  40. ^ MacKenzie, D. W. (March 2007). "Austrian Economics in Action: The economics of Groundhog Day". Review - Institute of Public Affairs 59 (Melbourne). p. 20. 
  41. ^ "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Broadway". Institute for Studies In American Music. Fall 2003. Retrieved 2006-10-10. 
  42. ^ "Sondheim plans changes to Bounce". The Stephen Sondheim Society. August 25, 2003. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved 2006-10-10. 
  43. ^ "Roundabout Live Chat". Roundabout Theatre. May 6, 2009. Retrieved 2011-12-21. [dead link]
  44. ^ "Tim Minchin and Matthew Warchus Developing GROUNDHOG DAY Musical". broadwayworld.com. Broadway World. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gilbey, Ryan (2004), Groundhog Day, London: British Film Institute, ISBN 1844570320 
  • Rubin, Danny (2012), How to Write "Groundhog Day", Boston: Triad Publishing, ASIN B0072PEV6U 

External links[edit]