Have you ever experienced deja vu, 3.5 readers?
Oh, and by the way, have you ever experienced deja vu?
BQB here with a review of the classic comedy, “Groundhog Day.” SPOILERS ABOUND.
Bill Murray plays Phil, an arrogant, self-absorbed Pittsburg weatherman who can’t contain his disdain for local television, phoning it in until, he hopes, a job at a national channel will save him. He openly mocks his job, his life, and all around him, never taking a moment to appreciate what he does have.
On one fateful day, Phil is assigned to cover the Punxatawney Phil ceremony, where a groundhog is pulled out of its hole and according to legend, if it sees its shadow, then there will be six more weeks of winter. This is the ultimate contemptible assignment for Weatherman Phil, who despises the idea of thousands of yokels dancing around in the cold to see a rat get yanked out of a cave.
Accompanying Phil are his goofy cameraman, Chris Elliot, and his producer/love interest, Andie MacDowell, a perpetually happy woman who always sees the bright side in everything, truly Phil’s foil.
Phil can’t wait to get out of this hick town but alas, every day he wakes up and it is Groundhog Day over and over and over again. Why? It’s never explained. He’s just stuck in an infinite loop, destined to live the same day for eternity.
How many Groundhog days does Phil experience? One can never be sure, but it has got to be in the thousands at least. This is truly an experimental film that was ahead of its time as the timeline is manipulated to comedic effect.
Phil’s reaction to his plight ranges from depression (he kills himself repeatedly only to wake up safe and sound with Sonny and Cher on the radio again and again), to greed (robbing an armored car without consequence) to lust (he questions babes about the most intimate details of their lives, then meets them fresh the next day and presents their interests as his, making them believe they’ve found their soul mate so they’ll offer instant nookie.)
Are there any lessons to be learned? Yes. When you are stuck in a rut, you have to do a lot of work to dig yourself out of that hole. Phil lives the same day over and over, really, for years. He makes mistakes. He learns lessons. Ultimately, when he uses his repeated day to better himself (take piano lessons) and to be kind to others (he starts spending his days finding out about the townsfolk’s problems) he finally lives one great, amazing day, spent helping the local yokels all day, only to tickle the ivories at night, impressing his lady love with his musical talent while the locals regale her with stories of Phil’s kindness.
Improve yourself. Be kind to others and they will tell tales of your goodness, tales that will reach someone you want to impress. This seems to be the name of the game and if only we could compact that work into one day that we get to live for years before we learn the lessons and then get to start fresh the next day. Unfortunately, when we are stuck in a rut, we must learn those lessons, obtain those skills, do those acts of kindness for years before they pay off, we may get old and croak before any of our hard work goes noticed.
So, the name of the game is start early. Funny, I saw this movie as a kid and didn’t heed its warnings. Today, I feel like Phil, stuck in a rut, turning people off with my constant mockery of everything, unable to find the time needed to improve my life and impress people.
I need a Groundhog Day! Come on, Sonny and Cher. Get on my radio!