Groundhog Day (1993)

Published: May 8, 2011 |Updated: Jan 14, 2012

Synopsis

In this 1993 comedy, Phil โ€“ a weather presenter for a local TV station โ€“ gets stuck in a strange time warp: He has to relive Groundhog Day in the small town of Punxsutawney over and over. He hates it there and at first it seems like a curse. But as Phil starts to fully comprehend his situation, he starts exploiting it for all it's worth. Then he falls for his producer Rita. Now, Phil is stuck in eternity with a woman who refuses to love him as long as he remains immature. He is called to turn his life around and become a new man โ€“ and live the perfect Groundhog Day.

Jump straight to the powerful ideas

Genre
Comedy
Production year
1993
Director
Harold Ramis
Male actors
Bill MurrayChris Elliott

General spoiler alert!

» To live one perfect day

Groundhog Day is a comedy far outside of the trodden path. The story of Bill Murray's "Phil" and his journey to free himself from an eternity reliving the same day echoes the wisdom of the ages. It is with great pleasure that I bring you precisely this review before my well-deserved hiatus.

Headed for Punxsutawney

Phil is the weather man for a local Pittsburgh-based TV station. Now time has come for February 2nd again, and with that: Groundhog day in Punxsutawney. Phil despises the ritual that the common folk of the tiny Pennsylvanian village find so elating and he is not afraid to voice it. In fact, Phil does a poor job of hiding his unbecoming personality โ€“ he is a cynical man, both rude and arrogant. And he seems to despise people in general. That includes himself, though he hides it with feigned self-regard.

Little does he know that Punxsutawney has a big surprise in store for him this year: After getting through his day of mandatory reporting duties, he wakes up the next morning โ€“ to live Groundhog Day all over.

Journey into wholeness, part #1: Adolescence

At first the time warp seems like a curse. And in his depression, he bonds with two drunken hillbillies in a bowling alley. Phil connecting with plebes is the first sign that he is becoming less smug; he does after all consider himself better than others. But life provides us with many gateways to maturity โ€“ and we often choose not to walk through them. Phil decides, after a flash of insight, that this is his chance to rebel.

 

As an immature man caught in a strange cosmic rift where time repeats itself in perpetuity, Phil is free to do whatever he wants; come nightfall he gets off the hook. What would you have done? Well, if you were a kid, you would have eaten till you dropped, you would have messed with authority figures, played tricks on people, stolen stuff. I would've anyway. And so would Phil. Not only does he get to live out his cherished childishness, he even explores using his superpowers for the sake of seducing women. What seemed like a curse has proven for Phil an unexpected blessing.

Phil is now enjoying his new "abilities", much like a kid who has found a new toy. But then he starts falling for Rita, the long-haired producer of the Punxsutawney featurette for which he acts as reporter. We could wonder why he starts falling for her only now. I think to myself that Phil's rebellion has done something to him โ€“ having had the pleasure of being reckless and irresponsible for a long time, he is now bored with it. Being a dick doesn't amuse him anymore. And only on the other side of that does he even SEE Rita.

But unbeknownst to him, his desire for Rita is about to spell serious trouble.

Journey into wholeness, part #2: Road of ashes

I want all Pick Up Artists in the world to see this movie. The PUA-movement has spread over the world in last ten years or so and consists for the most part of uninitiated men who are frustrated with their lives, particularly their relationships with women. They have low confidence and gather that if only they fucked enough women, that would change (which is probably, to be fair, partly true). The way by which these girls are seduced often consists of techniques and tactics designed essentially to trick them into having sex with them. For these guys, being authentic and showing your true self is not on the menu.

Rita presents an enormous challenge to Phil (who by now thinks like a PUA). Why? She is untrickable. Tactics don't work on her. No amount of strategies or "mind-reading" tricks help him win her. Whenever Rita detects he is pulling a move, he crashes and burns. Only when he shows up authentically in the moment do things happen. But that doesn't come easily for Phil. So in the end, he capitulates to the weight of time and a million rejections and commits suicide โ€“ the first of many. He wakes up the next morning in the comfortable bed of the same Bed & Breakfast he knows so well by now, disappointed that he still lives. This is a turning point.

 

On page 82 of Robert Bly's Iron John, I find the following passage "Initiation says that before a boy can become a man, some infantile being in him must die. Ashes time is a time set aside for the death of that ego-bound boy." This process was normally safeguarded and facilitated by Elders. But we don't have Elders these days, we just have Olders.

In the absence of Elders, Phil has eternity. He is lucky in a way. For true happiness, it seems to me, seldom comes from getting exactly what you want (even though I find the belief hard to shake most of the time). Nope, it comes from not getting what you want and finding that freedom and love was never contingent on getting anything in the first place. Happiness comes from discovering our gift and giving it to the world from that place of self-fulfillment.

But first, Phil needs something worth giving.

Journey into wholeness, part #3: Manhood

Now that Phil has discovered he can't have Rita in any way he knows, his focus changes to improving himself. This change is total: From being a rebel who exploits the time warp for selfish reasons, eternity has now become a place where Phil can study and master any number of things. Not only for his own enjoyment mind, but also to serve the people around him.

He learns to ice sculpt and to play the piano. He tracks all the things that go wrong in the city and runs around every day to help as many people as possible. He saves lives and is a true gentleman. He becomes in a way the local Punxsatawney god. He has found his purpose in life.

Phil's new eyes open to the old man he has passed on his way to Cobbler's Knob every morning. And when Phil learns that the man dies on the evening of that Groundhog Day, his heart opens and he decides to save him. He starts helping the man, caring for him in any number of ways day after repeating day. But it matters not. As he looks to the sky from the floor of a dark and grimey back street, the dead old man there beside him, he realizes that whatever forces put us here have a will of their own. If phil is a "god", there is a greater one indeed. It seems to me that Phil here opens to the beauty of life itself.

With his life now lived in service of others, Rita starts noticing him for real. She clearly wanted a man and not an immature boy. As Phil finally perfects his Groundhog Day experience, after perhaps thousands of years of trial and error, he falls asleep with his beloved in his arms. He wakes up the next day with Rita beside him. It is February the 3rd.

Conclusion

Phil's experience is any self-help freak's wet dream. Imagine having the opportunity to repeat the same day over and over until the great maker said you had passed the test and let you move on. Often, I sit down at the end of the day and take stock of it. Most often, I realize that there were many missed opportunities and that I could have lived life more fully. Groundhog Day asks the question: "What is a day well lived?" It's as if living one "perfect day" is our big challenge in life. As if we are ready to die only when that has been accomplished.

For me that means that I stop holding back. Whenever I feel compelled to do something, I do it. And so, in ending the censorship of my own life expression, I can fully accept and embrace the fact that I too one day will die. Do you get what I'm saying here? No Soul can live โ€“ or die โ€“ with the knowledge that we censored ourselves, that we chose not to live the life that was given us. It follows that Modernity's unwillingness to face death says much about how we waste our lives.

After Phil's narcissism gets wiped out through his time of ashes, censorship of his true life expression can be lifted in a safe way. For then, all his desires are healthy and world-building ones. His return now to the life of a mortal comes to him as a gift. He is happy to be made finite again. Only with the knowledge of impending death can he truly love Rita.

Groundhog Day is a comedy far outside of the trodden path. The story of Bill Murray's "Phil" and his journey to free himself from an eternity reliving the same day echoes the wisdom of the ages. It is with great pleasure that I bring you precisely this review before my well-deserved hiatus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Headed for Punxsutawney
Phil is the weather man for a local Pittsburgh-based TV station. Now time has come for February 2nd again, and with that: Groundhog day in Punxsutawney. Phil despises the ritual that the common folk of the tiny Pennsylvanian village find so elating and he is not afraid to voice it. In fact, Phil does a poor job of hiding his unbecoming personality - he is a cynical man, both rude and arrogant. And he seems to despise people in general. That includes himself, though he hides it with feigned self-regard.

Little does he know that Punxsutawney has a big surprise in store for him this year: After getting through his day of mandatory reporting duties, he wakes up the next morning - to live Groundhog Day all over.

Journey into wholeness, part #1: Adolescence

At first the time warp seems like a curse. And in his depression, he bonds with two drunken hillbillies in a bowling alley. Phil connecting with plebes is the first sign that he is becoming less smug; he does after all consider himself better than others. But life provides us with many gateways to maturity - and we often choose not to walk through them. Phil decides, after a flash of insight, that this is his chance to rebel. 31:00 - 32:30 (lag filmklipp)

As an immature man caught in a strange cosmic rift where time repeats itself in perpetuity, Phil is free to do whatever he wants; come nightfall he gets off the hook. What would you have done? Well, if you were a kid, you would have eaten till you dropped, you would have messed with authority figures, played tricks on people, stolen stuff. I would've anyway. And so would Phil. Not only does he get to live out his cherished childishness, he even explores using his superpowers for the sake of seducing women. What seemed like a curse has proven for Phil an unexpected blessing.

Phil is now enjoying his new "abilities", much like a kid who has found a new toy. But then he starts falling for Rita, the long-haired producer of the Punxsutawney featurette for which he acts as reporter. We could wonder why he starts falling for her only now. I think to myself that Phil's rebellion has done something to him - having had the pleasure of being reckless and irresponsible for a long time, he is now bored with it. Being a dick doesn't amuse him anymore. And only on the other side of that does he even SEE Rita.

But unbeknownst to him, his desire for Rita is about to spell serious trouble.

Journey into wholeness, part #2: Road of ashes

I want all Pick Up Artists in the world to see this movie. The PUA-movement has spread over the world in last ten years or so and consists for the most part of uninitiated men who are frustrated with their lives, particularly their relationships with women. They have low confidence and gather that if only they fucked enough women, that would change (which is probably, to be fair, partly true). The way by which these girls are seduced often consists of techniques and tactics designed essentially to trick them into having sex with them. For these guys, being authentic and showing your true self is not on the menu.

Rita presents an enormous challenge to Phil (who by now thinks like a PUA). Why? She is untrickable. Tactics don't work on her. No amount of strategies or "mind-reading" tricks help him win her. Whenever Rita detects he is pulling a move, he crashes and burns. Only when he shows up authentically in the moment do things happen. But that doesn't come easily for Phil. So in the end, he capitulates to the weight of time and a million rejections and commits suicide - the first of many. He wakes up the next morning in the comfortable bed of the same Bed & Breakfast he knows so well by now, disappointed that life is still his. This is the turning point.

On page 82 of Robert Bly's Iron John, I find the following passage "Initiation says that before a boy can become a man, some infantile being in him must die. Ashes time is a time set aside for the death of that ego-bound boy." This process was normally safeguarded and facilitated by Elders. But we don't have Elders these days, we just have Olders.

In the absence of Elders, Phil has eternity. He is lucky in a way. For true happiness, it seems to me, seldom comes from getting exactly what you want (even though I find the belief hard to shake most of the time). Nope, it comes from not getting what you want and finding that freedom and love was never contingent on getting anything in the first place. Happiness comes from discovering our gift and giving it to the world from that place of self-fulfillment.

But first, Phil needs something worth giving.

Journey into wholeness, part #3: Manhood

Now that Phil has discovered he can't have Rita in any way he knows, his focus changes to improving himself. This change is total: From being a rebel who exploits the time warp for selfish reasons, eternity has now become a place where Phil can study and master any number of things. Not only for his own enjoyment mind, but also to serve the people around him.

He learns to ice sculpt and to play the piano. He tracks all the things that go wrong in the city and runs around every day to help as many people as possible. He saves lives and is a true gentleman. He becomes in a way the local Punxsatawney god. He has found his purpose in life.

Phil's new eyes open to the old man he has passed on his way to Cobbler's Knob every morning. And when Phil learns that the man dies on the evening of that Groundhog Day, his heart opens and he decides to save him. He starts helping the man, caring for him in any number of ways day after repeating day. But it matters not. As he looks to the sky from the floor of a dark and grimey back street, the dead old man there beside him, he realizes that whatever forces put us here have a will of their own. If phil is a "god", there is a greater one indeed. It seems to me that Phil here opens to the beauty of life itself.

With his life now lived in service of others, Rita starts noticing him for real. She clearly wanted a man and not an immature boy. As Phil finally perfects his Groundhog Day experience - after perhaps thousands of years of trial and error - he falls asleep with his beloved in his arms. He wakes up the next day with Rita beside him. It is February the 3rd.

Conclusion

Phil's experience is any self-help freak's wet dream. Imagine having the opportunity to repeat the same day over and over until the great maker said you had passed the test and let you move on. Often, I sit down at the end of the day and take stock of it. Most often, I realize that there were many missed opportunities and that I could have lived life more fully. Groundhog Day asks the question: "What is a day well lived?" It's as if living one "perfect day" is our big challenge in life. As if we are ready to die only when that has been accomplished.

For me that means that I stop holding back. Whenever I feel compelled to do something, I do it. And so, in ending the censorship of my own life expression, I can fully accept and embrace the fact that I too one day will die. For when we censor our life expression, we *know* we aren't living the life that was given us - and no human Soul can live - or die - with that. Do you get what I'm saying here? It follows that Modernity's unwillingness to face death says much about how we waste our lives.

After Phil's narcissism gets wiped out through his time of ashes, censorship of his true life expression can be lifted in a safe way. For then, all his desires are healthy and world-building ones. His return now to the life of a mortal comes to him as a gift. He is happy to be made finite again. Only with the knowledge of impending death can he truly love Rita.

Groundhog Day is a comedy far outside of the trodden path. The story of Bill Murray's "Phil" and his journey to free himself from an eternity reliving the same day echoes the wisdom of the ages. It is with great pleasure that I bring you precisely this review before my well-deserved hiatus.

 

Headed for Punxsutawney

Phil is the weather man for a local Pittsburgh-based TV station. Now time has come for February 2nd again, and with that: Groundhog day in Punxsutawney. Phil despises the ritual that the common folk of the tiny Pennsylvanian village find so elating and he is not afraid to voice it. In fact, Phil does a poor job of hiding his unbecoming personality - he is a cynical man, both rude and arrogant. And he seems to despise people in general. That includes himself, though he hides it with feigned self-regard.

 

Little does he know that Punxsutawney has a big surprise in store for him this year: After getting through his day of mandatory reporting duties, he wakes up the next morning - to live Groundhog Day all over.

 

 

 

 

 

Journey into wholeness, part #1: Adolescence

 

At first the time warp seems like a curse. And in his depression, he bonds with two drunken hillbillies in a bowling alley. Phil connecting with plebes is the first sign that he is becoming less smug; he does after all consider himself better than others. But life provides us with many gateways to maturity - and we often choose not to walk through them. Phil decides, after a flash of insight, that this is his chance to rebel. 31:00 - 32:30 (lag filmklipp)

 

As an immature man caught in a strange cosmic rift where time repeats itself in perpetuity, Phil is free to do whatever he wants; come nightfall he gets off the hook. What would you have done? Well, if you were a kid, you would have eaten till you dropped, you would have messed with authority figures, played tricks on people, stolen stuff. I would've anyway. And so would Phil. Not only does he get to live out his cherished childishness, he even explores using his superpowers for the sake of seducing women. What seemed like a curse has proven for Phil an unexpected blessing.

 

Phil is now enjoying his new "abilities", much like a kid who has found a new toy. But then he starts falling for Rita, the long-haired producer of the Punxsutawney featurette for which he acts as reporter. We could wonder why he starts falling for her only now. I think to myself that Phil's rebellion has done something to him - having had the pleasure of being reckless and irresponsible for a long time, he is now bored with it. Being a dick doesn't amuse him anymore. And only on the other side of that does he even SEE Rita.

 

But unbeknownst to him, his desire for Rita is about to spell serious trouble.

 

 

 

 

 

Journey into wholeness, part #2: Road of ashes

 

I want all Pick Up Artists in the world to see this movie. The PUA-movement has spread over the world in last ten years or so and consists for the most part of uninitiated men who are frustrated with their lives, particularly their relationships with women. They have low confidence and gather that if only they fucked enough women, that would change (which is probably, to be fair, partly true). The way by which these girls are seduced often consists of techniques and tactics designed essentially to trick them into having sex with them. For these guys, being authentic and showing your true self is not on the menu.

 

Rita presents an enormous challenge to Phil (who by now thinks like a PUA). Why? She is untrickable. Tactics don't work on her. No amount of strategies or "mind-reading" tricks help him win her. Whenever Rita detects he is pulling a move, he crashes and burns. Only when he shows up authentically in the moment do things happen. But that doesn't come easily for Phil. So in the end, he capitulates to the weight of time and a million rejections and commits suicide - the first of many. He wakes up the next morning in the comfortable bed of the same Bed & Breakfast he knows so well by now, disappointed that life is still his. This is the turning point.

 

On page 82 of Robert Bly's Iron John, I find the following passage "Initiation says that before a boy can become a man, some infantile being in him must die. Ashes time is a time set aside for the death of that ego-bound boy." This process was normally safeguarded and facilitated by Elders. But we don't have Elders these days, we just have Olders.

 

In the absence of Elders, Phil has eternity. He is lucky in a way. For true happiness, it seems to me, seldom comes from getting exactly what you want (even though I find the belief hard to shake most of the time). Nope, it comes from not getting what you want and finding that freedom and love was never contingent on getting anything in the first place. Happiness comes from discovering our gift and giving it to the world from that place of self-fulfillment.

 

But first, Phil needs something worth giving.

 

 

 

 

 

Journey into wholeness, part #3: Manhood

 

Now that Phil has discovered he can't have Rita in any way he knows, his focus changes to improving himself. This change is total: From being a rebel who exploits the time warp for selfish reasons, eternity has now become a place where Phil can study and master any number of things. Not only for his own enjoyment mind, but also to serve the people around him.

 

He learns to ice sculpt and to play the piano. He tracks all the things that go wrong in the city and runs around every day to help as many people as possible. He saves lives and is a true gentleman. He becomes in a way the local Punxsatawney god. He has found his purpose in life.

 

Phil's new eyes open to the old man he has passed on his way to Cobbler's Knob every morning. And when Phil learns that the man dies on the evening of that Groundhog Day, his heart opens and he decides to save him. He starts helping the man, caring for him in any number of ways day after repeating day. But it matters not. As he looks to the sky from the floor of a dark and grimey back street, the dead old man there beside him, he realizes that whatever forces put us here have a will of their own. If phil is a "god", there is a greater one indeed. It seems to me that Phil here opens to the beauty of life itself.

 

With his life now lived in service of others, Rita starts noticing him for real. She clearly wanted a man and not an immature boy. As Phil finally perfects his Groundhog Day experience - after perhaps thousands of years of trial and error - he falls asleep with his beloved in his arms. He wakes up the next day with Rita beside him. It is February the 3rd.

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

Phil's experience is any self-help freak's wet dream. Imagine having the opportunity to repeat the same day over and over until the great maker said you had passed the test and let you move on. Often, I sit down at the end of the day and take stock of it. Most often, I realize that there were many missed opportunities and that I could have lived life more fully. Groundhog Day asks the question: "What is a day well lived?" It's as if living one "perfect day" is our big challenge in life. As if we are ready to die only when that has been accomplished.

 

For me that means that I stop holding back. Whenever I feel compelled to do something, I do it. And so, in ending the censorship of my own life expression, I can fully accept and embrace the fact that I too one day will die. For when we censor our life expression, we *know* we aren't living the life that was given us - and no human Soul can live - or die - with that. Do you get what I'm saying here? It follows that Modernity's unwillingness to face death says much about how we waste our lives.

 

After Phil's narcissism gets wiped out through his time of ashes, censorship of his true life expression can be lifted in a safe way. For then, all his desires are healthy and world-building ones. His return now to the life of a mortal comes to him as a gift. He is happy to be made finite again. Only with the knowledge of impending death can he truly love Rita.

Powerful ideas from Groundhog Day

  1. A man who hasn't fully lived through his adolescent rebellion will find it very challenging to become a mature man.
  2. Good women can not be coerced into loving a man with mere pickup tricks.
  3. Phil got the girl only when he discovered that there were things in his life that were more important.
  4. A man of means can use his power to either serve or exploit the world. And the man who chooses the latter kills himself in the end.
  5. Who you are is not a constant. It changes with your actions and the way you move through life. It follows that if a woman rejects you, she rejects your attitude/social mask, not your essence. This is good news!
  6. Living one perfect day is a metaphor for having mastered life. What would your perfect day look like? Make a list and aim to follow through with it. It will bring you peace, love and energy.

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