When an arrogant weatherman is sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney he finds himself repeating the same day in what has become a timeless comedy is celebrating twenty-five years of laughs.
If you read a synopsis for a film that was about one man repeating the same day you might think you were reading something for Star Trek. Normally that might be a good guess, but in this case it’s about Phil Connors a weatherman from Pittsburgh, PA who must suffer the same day over and over again on Groundhog Day.
Danny Rubin thought up the idea of what would become Groundhog Day while sitting in a movie theater. Rubin asked himself if someone could live forever how would the world change over time? Realizing that idea might not work, Rubin went back to another idea he had about a man living the same day over and over and how that person might change. Rubin combined his two ideas and realized there were several possibilities involving comedy and drama.
Once Rubin decided to use Groundhog Day as the day that would be repeated, Rubin was able to put his character an unfamiliar town like Punxsutawney, and name the character Phil after the Groundhog as well as making him a weatherman.
Being about Groundhog Day one might assume the movie was filmed in Punxsutawney, but it wasn’t. Punxsutawney was too much a remote location that would have caused logistical issues and extra expense. Instead the movie was filmed in Woodstock, Illinois, 60 miles northwest of Chicago.
Of course we all know that Bill Murray starred as Phil in the movie, but before Murray, Tom Hanks and Michael Keaton were offered the role and both turned down the part. Officials from Punxsutawney denied the use of the real Punxsutawney Phil due to the fact their town was passed over as the location for the movie. Despite that representatives went to Illinois to insure the ceremony itself was depicted accurately.
Groundhog Day was released into theaters on February 12, 1993 with a budget of $14.6 million and earned $70.9 million domestically finishing 1993 as the 13th highest grossing movie.
So, does Groundhog Day still hold up today twenty-five years later? The short answer is yes. With a mixture of humor and drama, Groundhog Day is just as funny and touching now as it was then.
What makes Groundhog Day stand out, as a movie is it deals with certain issues of life we’ve all have pondered at one time or another. The meaning of life, love, death and even god and yet Groundhog Day quietly asks these questions all while the audience is laughing and yet they never once come out and ask.
When Phil comes to the conclusion that trying to make Rita (Andie MacDowell) fall for him doesn’t initially work as a way to end the day from repeating, Phil becomes depressed and begins doing things that he knows will kill him as a way of ending the cycle. Phil steals a truck the Groundhog and plunges to the bottom of a strip-mine pit, but when he wakes up the next morning and it’s Groundhog Day all over again Phil moves onto electrocuting himself, jumping off a building and stepping in front of a moving vehicle.
A movie like Groundhog Day could easily get old with the repetition of watching Phil repeating the same day, meeting the same people, hearing the alarm clock play “I Got You Babe”, but each time we see Phil and his interactions with the people of Punxsutawney, Phil’s reaction to them changes. Sometimes his reactions are funny sometimes he’s just insulting, but the further into the movie you go the more Phil learns to love and appreciate a town in which he hated and it keeps the audience from becoming bored with him repeating the same day over and over.
From beginning to end when you watch Groundhog Day you see Phil Connors undergo a transformation that makes him a better man, but he never looses sight of what it is that makes him Phil. He’s the same Phil, but a wiser more likable Phil.
Unfortunately Harold Ramis and Bill Murray suffered a falling out by the time they had completed filming of Groundhog Day, but with a script that was so well written, so well-directed and so well acted that Groundhog Day has become a timeless comedy over the last twenty-five years and should have no problems remaining one for the next twenty-five years.
Groundhog Day Synopsis:
Bill Murray is at his wry, wisecracking best in this riotous romantic comedy about a weatherman caught in a personal time warp on the worst day of his life. Teamed with a relentlessly cheerful producer (Andie MacDowell) and a smart-aleck cameraman (Chris Elliott), TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities. But on his way out of town, Phil is caught in a giant blizzard, which he failed to predict, and finds himself stuck in small-town hell. Just when things couldn’t get any worse, they do. Phil wakes the next morning to find it’s Groundhog Day all over again… and again… and again.
Categories: Movie Anniversaries