Groundhog Day (film)

Groundhog Day (film)
Groundhog Day

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Harold Ramis
Produced by Trevor Albert
Harold Ramis
Screenplay by Danny Rubin
Harold Ramis
Story by Danny Rubin
Starring Bill Murray
Andie MacDowell
Chris Elliott
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography John Bailey
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) February 12, 1993
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14.6 million
Box office $70,906,973[1]

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

Murray plays Phil Connors, an egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during a hated assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, finds himself repeating the same day over and over 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."[2]



Self-centered and sour TV meteorologist Phil Connors (Bill Murray), news producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott) from fictional Pittsburgh television station WPBH-TV9 travel to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities with Punxsutawney Phil. Having grown tired of this assignment, Phil grudgingly gives his report and attempts to return to Pittsburgh when a blizzard shuts down the roads. Phil and his team are forced to return to Punxsutawney and stay in town overnight.

Phil wakes up to find that he is reliving February 2. The day plays out exactly as it did before, with no one else aware of the time loop, and only Phil aware of past events. 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 repeatedly fail.

Eventually, Phil becomes despondent and tries more and more drastically to end the time loop; he gives ridiculous and offensive reports on the festival, abuses residents, and eventually kidnaps Punxsutawney Phil and, after a police chase, drives into a quarry, evidently 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 awaking at 6:00 A.M. on the morning of February 2 with the clock-radio on his bedstand playing I Got You, Babe by Sonny & Cher.

When Phil explains the situation to Rita, she suggests that he should take advantage of it to improve himself. Inspired, Phil endeavors to try to learn more about Rita, building upon his knowledge of her and the town each day. 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, to play piano, ice sculpt and speak French.

Eventually, Phil is able to befriend almost everyone he meets during the day, using his experiences to save lives, help townspeople, and 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 evening dance, Rita and Phil retire together to Phil's room. He wakes the next morning and finds the time loop is broken; it is now February 3 and Rita is still with him. After going outside, Phil talks about living in Punxsutawney with Rita.


Andie MacDowell with groundhog, 2008.


"Ned's Corner" commemorative plaque, Woodstock.
Tip Top Cafe, Woodstock.

According to Harold Ramis's DVD commentary, there are several differences between Danny Rubin's original script and the film as it was actually released.

The original script began in the middle of the narrative, without explaining how or why Phil was repeating Groundhog Day. 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 character Rita reliving the day with Phil, and portrayed the pair as being stuck in the time loop for far longer than in the final film, possibly for thousands of years (Phil tracked time by reading a page of a book each day and had managed to read through the entire public library).

There have been widely conflicting reports of how long Phil is trapped in the time loop. Ramis states in the DVD commentary that he believes 10 years pass. There are 42 accountable days in the film. The website Wolf Gnards projected the time spent as 8 years, 8 months, and 16 days: based on him spending 3 years learning to play the piano, 3 years learning to ice sculpt, 2 years learning French, and 6 months learning to throw cards into a hat.[3] However, in an e-mail response to Wolf Gnards, 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]

Stephen Tobolowsky said that Ramis told him that he felt 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]

Consequently, the love story 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.

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]


The shooting location[8][9] for most of the shooting of the film was Woodstock, Illinois, a far northwest suburb of Chicago about 10 miles 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 miles 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 which serves coffee and Italian ice cream.[8] The Bed and Breakfast Inn that Phil stayed at was a house on Fremont Street at the south end of Madison Street and is still there today - the arbor at the end of the front walk is still there but the white picket fence is gone.[10]

An aerial view of the WPBH van shows the Pittsburgh Press and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette buildings, as well as Gateway Center.

The final scene

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]


Groundhog Day was a solid performer in its initial release, grossing $70.9M in North America and ranking 13th among films released in 1993.[11] It found a second life on home video and cable. The film is number thirty-four on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Funniest Movies, and was named the number eight Fantasy film in AFI's 10 Top 10. Roger Ebert has revisited it in his "Great Movies" series.[12] After giving it a three-star rating in his original review,[13] 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. In 2009, the American literary theorist and legal scholar Stanley Fish named the film as among the ten best American films ever.[14]

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 magazine 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.[15] It currently garners a 96% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. On Metacritic, the movie has a score of 72 (Generally favorable reviews) out of 100. It was also nominated for a Hugo Award in 1994 for Best Dramatic Presentation, but lost to Jurassic Park.


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.[16][17]

American Film Institute recognition


The phrase "Groundhog Day" has entered common use as a reference to an unpleasant situation that continually repeats, or seems to.[18]

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.[19] The film was a favorite 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 periods between raids and monotonous long days.[20] 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.[21] 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.[22]

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."[23]

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.[24][25] As such, the film has become a favorite of Buddhists[26][27] 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."[28]

In economics, the movie has been used by economists to illustrate the theory of "perfectly competitive equilibrium based on perfect information", and its associated theoretical shortcomings.[29]

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.[30][31]

See also


  1. ^ "Groundhog Day (1993)" (Press release). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Films Added to National Film Registry for 2006" (Press release). Library of Congress. December 27, 2006. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ "How Long Does Bill Murray Spend in Groundhog Day?". 2009-06-16. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  4. ^ "Harold Ramis Responds to the Wolf Gnards". 2009-08-18. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  5. ^ a b Jekelek, Jan (2010-02-11). "In Depth With ‘Groundhog Day’s’ Ned Ryerson, Actor Stephen Tobolowsky". Epoch Times. Retrieved 2010-09-16. 
  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.,29410/. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  8. ^ a b "Woodstock, Illinois - Groundhog Day Movie Town". Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  9. ^ "Woodstock, set of Groundhog Day". Retrieved 2011-02-25. 
  10. ^ "Woodstock Bed and Breakfast from Groundhog Day". Retrieved 2011-02-25. 
  11. ^ "1993 Domestic Grosses". 
  12. ^ Roger Ebert's Great Movies Review of Groundhog Day January 30, 2005
  13. ^ Roger Ebert's Review of Groundhog Day February 12, 1993
  14. ^ Stanley Fish (2009-01-04). "The 10 Best American Movies". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  15. ^ "The 101 Greatest Screenplays". Writers Guild of America. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  16. ^ American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  17. ^ "Top 10 Fantasy". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  18. ^ "Hurricane Fatigue". USA Today. 2004-09-26. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  19. ^ "Diplomacy's Gunboat". U.S. News & World Report. 1994-02-22. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  20. ^ Bowden, Black Hawk Down, Corgi edition, 2000 p.534.
  21. ^ Remarks to American Troops at Tuzla Airfield, Bosnia-Herzegovina, January 13, 1996
  22. ^ "'Embrace the Suck' and More Military Speak". Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  23. ^ Nick Assinder (2004-02-04). "Politics: Prime Minister's Questions". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  24. ^ "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
  25. ^ 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."" 
  26. ^ Paul Schindler. "Groundhog Day The Movie, Buddhism and Me". Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  27. ^ Shambhala Sun. "And If He Sees His Shadow...". 
  28. ^ Andrew Buncombe (2004-02-02). "Is this the greatest story ever told?". The Independent (London: Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  29. ^ MacKenzie, D. W. (March 2007). "Austrian Economics in Action: The economics of Groundhog Day". Review - Institute of Public Affairs (Melbourne) 59: p. 20. 
  30. ^ "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Broadway". Institute for Studies In American Music. Fall 2003. Retrieved 2006-10-10. 
  31. ^ "Sondheim plans changes to Bounce". The Stephen Sondheim Society. August 25, 2003. Retrieved 2006-10-10. 

Further reading

  • Gilbey, Ryan (2004), Groundhog Day, London: British Film Institute, ISBN 1844570320 .

External links

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