In the film, Murray plays Phil Connors, an egocentric Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 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 and over again. Subsequent to his indulging in all manner of hedonistic pursuits, he begins to reexamine his life and priorities.
In December 2006, Groundhog Day was one of 25 films that were added to the National Film Registry.
TV Meteorologist Phil Connors, his producer Rita, and cameraman Larry from the fictional Pittsburgh television station WPBH-TV travel to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (which, in real life, as in the movie, holds a major celebration for Groundhog Day) to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities with Punxsutawney Phil.
After the celebration concludes, a blizzard develops that Connors had predicted would miss them, closing the roads and shutting down outside phone service, forcing him to spend an extra day in Punxsutawney. Connors awakens the next morning, however, to find it is again February 2, and the day unfolds in exactly the same way, over and over again. For Connors, Groundhog Day begins each morning with his waking up to the same song, Sonny & Cher's] "I Got You Babe", on his alarm clock radio, but with his (and only his) memories of the "previous" day intact, trapped in a seemingly endless "time loop" to repeat the same day in the same small town.
Initially, Connors takes advantage of learning the day's events and the information he is able to gather about the town's inhabitants, and that his actions have no long-term consequences. He revels in this situation for a time: seducing beautiful women, stealing money, even driving drunk and experiencing a police chase. However, his attempts to seduce his producer, Rita, are met with repeated failure. He begins to tire and then dread his existence. In a vain attempt to break the cycle, he kidnaps Phil the Groundhog, and both rodent and man die after a police pursuit; but the loop does not stop. He commits suicide several more times—we see him electrocute himself and fall from a tall building (other attempts are alluded to) -- but mere death cannot stop the day from repeating. After he dies, he simply wakes up listening to Sonny & Cher in the same bed again.
He opens his heart to Rita, and her advice helps him to gradually find a goal for his trapped life: as a benefactor to others. He cannot, in a single day, bring others to fulfill his needs but he can achieve self-improvement by educating himself on a daily basis. After seeing an elderly homeless man die, Phil vows that no one will die on "his" day and performs many heroic services each and every day, including performing the Heimlich Maneuver on a choking man and saving a little boy from falling from a tree. Though the film does not specify the number of repetitions, there is enough time for Connors to learn to play jazz piano, speak some French, sculpt ice, and memorize the life story of almost everyone in town. He also masters the art of flipping playing cards into an upturned hat, which he offhandedly suggests takes six months (director Ramis has stated Phil repeats the day for about 10 years, noting that it would take that long to become as proficient on the piano as Connors does from daily lessons, though the original script had February 2 repeating for thousands of years.)
Eventually, Connors enhances his own human understanding which, in return, makes him an appreciated and beloved man in the town. Finally, after professing a true love to Rita, one which she is able to accept, he wakes up on February 3 -- though again to "I Got You Babe." Yet it is a new day, with Rita beside him on the bed. Phil suggests to Rita that they live in Punxsutawney, though he suggests, "We'll rent to start." Appropriately, the closing song is Almost Like Being in Love from Brigadoon.
- Bill Murray - Phil Connors
- Andie MacDowell - Rita
- Chris Elliott - Larry
- Stephen Tobolowsky - Ned Ryerson
- Brian Doyle-Murray - Buster Green
- Rick Ducommun - Gus
- Rick Overton - Ralph
- Robin Duke - Doris, the Waitress
- Marita Geraghty - Nancy Taylor
- Angela Paton - Mrs. Lancaster
- David Pasquesi - Psychiatrist
- Harold Ramis - Neurologist
Development of the movie
There are several differences between the original script for Groundhog Day, as written by Danny Rubin, and the film as it was actually released, due to 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. Consequently, the love story within the film 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 has been closed down, but a "Tip Top Bistro" has taken its place.
Some of the film was also shot in nearby 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 Radio.
Although it did not do exceptionally well in its original cinematic release (grossing some $70.9M in North America), the movie has had a second life on video and cable. Originally noted as an uplifting romantic comedy by critics, it has since entrenched itself as one of the great American films of the late twentieth century: The film is number thirty-four on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Funniest Movies, and Roger Ebert has revisited it in his "Great Movies" series.
This 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. In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted it the seventh greatest comedy film of all time. As of January 2007, it was number 168 on the Top 250 Movies of all time, as rated by members of the Internet Movie Database, with an 8.0 rating out of 10. The Writers Guild of America ranked the screenplay #27 on their list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written.
- 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, Christian and Jewish leaders alike because they see its themes of selflessness and rebirth as a reflection of their own spiritual messages. It has even been dubbed by some religious leaders as the "most spiritual film of our time."
- The phrase "Groundhog Day" has entered common use as a reference to an unpleasant situation that continually repeats, or seems to. It is also used in this sense in the UK, perhaps more commonly than in its original meaning since the weather-based meaning is not traditional there. At least one British-English dictionary marks Feb. 2nd as a North American usage, with no such annotation for the repetitious meaning.
- 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. 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.
- 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."
- The film's cult following has made it one of Murray's well-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."
- Groundhog Day has gone on to inspire many areas of pop culture. Rock band The Dismemberment Plan derived its name from dialogue spoken by the Tobolowsky character Ned Ryerson. British comedy quiz show Shooting Stars used the question "Who was the star of Groundhog Day?", to which the contestant replied "Bill Murray". Host Vic Reeves then asked the question again and the contestant answered it again, and this repeated with the contestant more irate until he eventually understood the joke. 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.
- 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.
- Groundhog Day has been used as an illustration by an economist in an article arguing the impossibility of the economics concepts of perfect information and perfect competition. Full text of article
- During Groundhog Day in the video game Animal Crossing, a character mentions that Groundhog Day was good enough to have a movie made after it.
- Stargate SG1 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 the 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 film was a favourite 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 monotonuous long days
- In the Iraq War, "Groundhog Day" is American military slang for any day of a tour of duty in Iraq.
- British Comedy Awards 1993 (Comedy Film)
- Saturn Award for Best Actress (Film) (Andie McDowell, for playing Rita)
Details from the film
- The poetry Rita quotes to Phil is from the sixth canto of The Lay of the Last Minstrel by Sir Walter Scott, also known as Patriotism. The French poem Phil quotes to Rita is La bourrée du célibataire by Jacques Brel. Translated, he says "The girl I will love / is like a fine wine / that gets a little better / every morning."
- The book Phil is reading as Rita is falling asleep is Poems for Every Mood, edited by Harriet Monroe.
- The set construction and theme music for WPBH-TV in the movie were based on those of WTAE-TV, the real-life ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh.
- The 101 Greatest Screenplays. Writers Guild of America. Retrieved on 2007-03-13.
- Buncombe, Andrew. The Independent (London, England), February 2 2004. Is this the greatest story ever told?. Retrieved on 2007-01-07.
- Collins Main Dictionary DefinitionsGroundhog Day. Retrieved on 2006-21-12.
- Hoge, Warren. The New York Times, August 14 2006. U.S. policy shift spurred UN drive for truce.. Archived from the original on 2006-08-21. Retrieved on 2006-09-01.
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Broadway. Institute for Studies In American Music (2003). Retrieved on October 10, 2006.
- Sondheim plans changes to Bounce. The Stephen Sondheim Society (2003). Retrieved on October 10, 2006.
- Bowden, Black Hawk Down, Corgi edition, 2000 p.534.
- Back From Iraq at the Great American Diner. Retrieved on 2007-04-08.
- Gilbey, Ryan, Groundhog Day, London, British Film Institute, 2004. ISBN 1-84457-032-0
- Groundhog Day at the Internet Movie Database
- Template:Rogerebert (from 1993-02-12)
- Template:Rogerebert (from 2005-01-30)
- Movie Reviews
- Transparency Now on Groundhog Day
- Annotated links of Groundhog Day and Buddhism
- National Review's Jonah Goldberg's Cover Story on Groundhog Day
- Co-screen-writer, Danny Rubin's Homepage
- Real-life "Groundhog Days" studied
- Script to the movie (Jan 1992)
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