I know a lot of people out there may be feeling trapped or stuck given the current situation. Each day might feel like you’re living in a loop. Nonetheless, this is a time for us to reset and remember what is most important in our lives. For some it’s to recognize what we take for granted. Amongst the uncertainty, it’s important to try and recognize that there are worse things that we could be asked to do, rather than stay inside. I can guarantee that absolutely no one is feeling as trapped as Phil Connors was in the comedy classic Groundhog Day. Sure you might have been wearing the same pair of pants for the last week, but that doesn’t hold a candle to what Phil experienced back on February 2, 1992.
Directed and co-written by comedy legend Harold Ramis, Groundhog Day is timeless, nostalgic and as relevant today as it was when it originally came out. Seen as an allegory for self-improvement, Groundhog Day tells the story of egotistical TV Weatherman, Phil Connors (Bill Murray). His charm and humor on-camera have Phil on the rise to stardom, but off-camera he’s incredibly angry and self-centered. His coworkers, Rita (Andie MacDowell) and Larry (Chris Elliot) are usually at the receiving end of his outbursts.
After being sent off on his yearly coverage of the title holiday in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Phil is working on the fast track to get himself in and out. That night brings a snowstorm that traps him and his crew in the small town. Thus begins the never-ending loop that he cannot break. Every. Single. Day he wakes up to the song “I Got You Babe” on February 2nd, 1992. Every experience, every exchange, every interaction is the exact same as the day before, should he choose not to tinker.
It’s a fantastical and supernatural situation to say the least. Phil’s problem blows our mandated couch potato-ing out of the water. No matter what he does, he can’t seem to break the cycle. Imprisonment, kidnapping the groundhog, flirting with every single woman in town and even suicide attempts don’t work- he’ll always find himself waking up to the radio at 6:00. Connors has little hope in getting people to believe in his situation, as everyone and everything seems to reset itself. However, Connors remembers everything.
Along the way to eternity, stuck in the same 24 hours, Connors goes through a lifetime. Eventually becoming tired of his own struggle, this outer shell of anger and bitterness starts to shed as he begins focusing on other people rather than himself and his needs. Countless attempts to save a homeless man’s life whose time just so happens to come on Groundhog’s Day in 1992 shows Connors’ transition. He also begins to fall in love with Rita as he grows closer to her.
Phil begins to care for these people despite not being fully sure if doing so will break his endless loop. His selfless acts start to become second nature as he finds solace in his newfound behavior, actions and care. But will it all be enough to break the loop?
The late great Harold Ramis explained that when he wrote the second treatment for Groundhog Day’s script, he wasn’t aiming to drive home some big grandiose metaphor for self-betterment. He was just trying to make a fun, full-hearted hilarious story that everyone could enjoy. Groundhog Day’s comedic timing and swagger drips right off the film and, unlike some of Ramis and Murray’s other work, it’s a fun watch for the whole family. Everyone will be able to apply lessons to their own lives, their own way.
Like I said before, some of us might currently be feeling trapped, or on a loop of their own. But it is important to remember that you are not the only one impacted by this pandemic. Take the time and be grateful for all that you do have, give thanks and help others that may need it more than you do. That’s exactly what this movie is promoting, not a love story that we’ve all seen in some form before. Some go even further and analyze this film deeply for its allegorical elements and hidden meanings. But I think it’s much simpler. Just do the right thing and have a fun time doing it.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 Stars.
If you haven’t seen Groundhogs Day in a while… watch it. If you haven’t seen it before… WATCH IT. It’s on Netflix, ripe for the picking, and I believe the film’s themes could not be more relevant.