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Groundhog Day: Bill Murray's Hilarious Film Based on a Story Based on a Spiritual Lesson Learned?

Updated on February 7, 2011
a rat who predicts the weather
a rat who predicts the weather

a rodent leads a man to "spiritual awakening"

Living the same day over and over again. No, I don't mean those poor souls working at tedious jobs as wage slaves in cubicles. With a case of the Mondays.

I mean Bill Murray. In the movie Groundhog Day . Poor Bill, or rather Phil Connors, lives the same day––Groundhog Day––over and over again, in the bustling metropolis of Punxsutawney, PA. An arrogant asshole and a so-so weatherman, he actually morphs into a good guy at the end of the movie, having learned lessons about life and the way we approach it.

He goes through stages as more and more days go by, but still nothing changes about those 24 hours, other than the way he deals with them. The same Sonny and Cher song on his clock radio, the same weather, the same inane (at least in his opinion) small-talk conversation, the same inaccurate weather forecast that he made, leaving him stranded by a blizzard in the small Pennsylvania town.

First, he's confused. Then, he indulges himself, knowing tomorrow will never come and neither will today's consequences. He uses it to to his advantage. He gets so fed up with the monotony of the endlessly-on-repeat day that he tries to commit suicide a number of times, but still wakes up on Groundhog Day. He gives up and goes on a crime spree. Eventually, he also develops feelings for the producer/director of his coverage of the cornball holiday and excitement around it.

Somehow he has a revelation that his prior knowledge of everything that will happen during that one day means that he can actually do some good. Then he then spends his day(s) helping the Punxsutawney-ians as best he can. He takes it up an notch, and not only helps others, but decides to use his time to better himself, mostly to impress Rita, the producer, but also because he figures he has a re-do, at least on Feb. 2.

But the end result is that he becomes a better person: talented, caring, altruistic, and loved by the residents of the town. He learns French, ice-sculpture, piano, and generally how to be a nicer person and help his fellow man. He has transformed himself from a jaded two-bit weatherman into someone who has honestly improved his life.

His super-sucky situation has given him a new lease on life, and his journey has brought him to an almost Buddhist-based spiritual transformation. Directed by the man who also directed Ghostbusters . But I shouldn't knock Ramis––he also directed a film with the famous line "Be the ball", often quoted by businessmen and stoners alike. Chevy Chase's giving Zen Buddhist advice on a golf

Rubin has been asked a few times how long Phil was stuck in time and he has given a rough estimate of 30 to 40 years. It's a popular blogger and website question. Ramis disagrees with both Murray and Rubin about the number of days that Phil Connors is caught in a time loop. That the question was asked and is pondered is itself in a way, a existential oddity.

And as Phil says nearing the end of the movie, "When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter."

Be the ball.

Groundhog Day

How long did Phil Connors re-live February 2nd in the movie Groundhog Day?

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    • bruzzbuzz profile image

      bruzzbuzz 6 years ago from Texas , USA

      I had never given thought to how long Phil was in the loop. It makes sense that it would be years because of the talents he learned like piano and ice carving. Great hub.

    • Taylorwise profile image

      Taylorwise 7 years ago from Austin, TX

      Thanks very much...I watched Lost in Translation last night. It might not be everyone's favorite Bill Murray movie, but I guess it's a girlie romantic kinda-comedy movie and one of the VERY few that I like. Pretty Woman makes me breaks out in hives.

      I think L.I.T. portrays the feeling of being lost and rudderless very well. I could watch most of his movies over and over again, but well, Scrooged is iffy....

    • Painted Seahorse profile image

      Brittany Rowland 7 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      Nice review of the film! I actually caught it on TV last night. It's surprising what a powerful message it sends for being a Bill Murray comedy. But then, Murray has always been one of my favorite actors for that reason!