Groundhog Day is one of my favorite holidays — odd, I know, but since Feb. 2 is my birthday, I have more affinity for it than most. And “Groundhog Day” is one of my favorite movies, perhaps for the same reason.
I try to watch the movie, which stars Bill Murray as a narcissistic weatherman, each year on my birthday. Directed by Harold Ramis, the movie is one of the top comedies of the 1990s, and arguably, of all time.
Phil Connors (Murray), a Pittsburgh weatherman, finds the annual trek he must make to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, for a Groundhog Day telecast to be the height of provincialism. A blizzard — which the arrogant Phil predicted would miss the area — causes him to be stuck in Punxsutawney for an extra night.
However, when he wakes up the next morning, he finds it’s Feb. 2 all over again. No one remembers living the previous day. And each morning, he is forced to relive Groundhog Day over and over again.
Trying to fight off boredom and ennui, Phil does everything from attempting suicide to learning the piano to trying to save a homeless man fated to die.
Over the years he is apparently stationed in the same day, he begins to fall for his producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell). At first, he simply wants to get her in bed, but over time he begins to try to improve himself to make him worthy of her. Unfortunately for him, his progress in changing her opinion of him resets every 24 hours.
The reasons behind the repeating day are left murky, but that makes the film’s message even stronger. While none of us will (as far as I know) be caught reliving the same day over and over literally, many of us may do so metaphorically each day of our lives. “Groundhog Day” encourages us to strive for self-improvement, engagement in our community, and love.
- Matt Price