Groundhog Day and Some Movies with a Similar Premise
The 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” has become synonymous with the concept of repeating the same events numerous times. Many movies made before and after “Groundhog Day” have a similar premise. “Groundhog Day”, “12:01”, “Triangle”, and “Edge of Tomorrow” illustrate how a premise can easily be used in different genres. The premise takes to the extreme the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”. This article contains spoilers for these movies.
This movie is a fantasy, romance comedy. Phil (Bill Murray) is a cynical, self-centered, reporter. He goes to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the Groundhog Day ritual where Punxsutawney Phil is to predict the arrival of spring depending on if he sees his shadow. He covers the Groundhog Day festivities on February 2nd.
When Phil, the reporter not the groundhog, wakes up the next morning he finds it is still February 2nd. He finds every day he wakes up to February 2nd. He even commits suicide by driving off a cliff only to find he wakes up to February 2nd. Before the climax it is revealed he has lived Groundhog Day many more times than is depicted in the movies. He relives February 2nd so many times he knows many things about what will happen and about the people in the area. He eventually figures out he has to find out how to love and commit to a relationship.
This is a science fiction movie. It is set in the present, 1993. Barry Thomas (Jonathan Silverman) is an office worker. He is handsome but not a very good office worker. He comes in late for work. His supervisor (Cheryl Anderson) points out his tardiness and hints she only puts up with him because of his looks. Barry has a crush on Dr. Lisa Fredricks (Helen Slater). They never met and as a Physicist she is clearly out of his league. In the afternoon Barry sees Dr. Fredricks gunned down in a drive-by shooting. His terrible day ends with him getting an electrical shock at midnight. He wakes up the next day and goes to work. He notices this day is playing out the same as the previous day. When he sees Dr. Fredricks alive he realizes he is living the same day over again. He tells the police about the impending murder. At midnight Dr. Fredricks is in the morgue and Barry is in jail. The next time around the day ends with Dr. Fredricks alive and in bed with Barry. When he repeats the day and makes contact with Dr. Fredricks she soon figures out on the previous iteration of the day Barry “got lucky”. Barry is quick to point out she also “got lucky.” The “time bounce” is a physics experiment, which she opposed, gone awry. She explained the electric shock he received at the experiment’s exact time is what makes him conscious of the “time bounce”. Barry lives through the day many more times. This includes a time where he dies in a traffic accident. In the process Dr. Fredericks and Barry fall in love.
This 2009 move is a horror fantasy. The movie’s title alludes to the Bermuda Triangle. According to legend strange things happen in this area of the Atlantic Ocean and many ships and planes have disappeared without a trace. The movie begins with a group of people going out on a yacht. They find and board a deserted merchant ship. Strange things happen and the characters are killed off one at a time. This “normal” horror story takes an unusual turn after the characters are all killed. The story resets. The characters re-board the ghost ship. One of the characters, Jess (Melissa George), figures out when all her companions die the reality resets and there is a chance to set things to right. Jess quickly concludes the chance to reset will happen quicker if she kills her companions. While she is killing her companions it becomes obvious she and her companions have gone through this ordeal countless times before. When she kills her companions and makes her way back to the time before she and her companions set sail all seems right. Then it’s revealed the situation was a wheel within a wheel.[i]
[i] Ezekiel 1:16
Edge of Tomorrow
This 2014 action/adventure science fiction movie is set in the near future. The Earth has been invaded by aliens. The war against the aliens has been going on for some time. The Earth forces are planning a cross channel invasion of France. Like the 1944 D-Day invasion they hope it will be the beginning of the end for the aliens. Cage (Tom Cruise) is a public affairs officer. He got a commission as a Major in the U.S. Army to further his career. He is a coward who doesn’t want to go anywhere near the fighting. British Army General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) tells Cage he is to cover the invasion on the ground. Cage threatens to make the general look bad if General Brigham sends him to the front. General Brigham has him arrested and sent to an infantry squad. The people there are told Cage is a private who was a deserter and who has impersonated an officer. Cage doesn’t even know how to use his weapon and nobody in the squad gives him instructions. The invasion is a disaster. Cage figures out how to use his weapon and kills one of the aliens before he is killed.
Cage finds himself where he was when he was taken to the squad. He dies a few more time before he comes across Rita (Emily Blunt). She is a celebrated hero from a previous battle. Rita tells Cage to find her moments before they both die. He finds her and learns she was a hero in the previous battle because she experienced what he is experiencing. The aliens have an ability to manipulate time. When Cage, and Rita before him, killed a certain type of alien they got the ability from the aliens’ blood. Rita lost her ability to relive the previous day when she received a blood transfusion. They are able, through many attempts, to advance to a certain point. Then Cage finds himself in a difficult position. At this point Rita will die. If he is able to continue on himself and defeat the aliens Rita will be dead forever. The situation is complicated since Cage has fallen in love with Rita.
© 2017 Robert Sacchi