January 30, 2007

Groundhog Day: A Viewer's Guide

Groundhog Day: A Viewer's Guide

This is the probably the only outline that I’ve ever actually enjoyed creating. I made it for last year’s show and happily rediscovered it this week.

It’s a chronological account of Bill Murray’s — er, Phil Connors’s — psychological progression as he repeats Groundhog Day over and over and over. Think Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief with a dash of Buddhism and a large rodent driving angry.

Reading this a year later, it occurs to me that the last line — “We’ll rent first” — which I put under TRANSCENDENCE, is more accurately a first cousin of SELF-CENTERED SMARM, which starts the movie off. It’s less smarmy, clearly, but still a self-referential, winking sort of bet-hedging. But doesn’t this make intuitive sense? Where else should Groundhog Day end if not right back at the beginning?

Addenda and arguments are welcome.

  1. SELF-CENTERED SMARM
    1. Capable of speaking only in quips and barbs — and weather-speak
    2. To the B&B proprietor on Day 1: “Chance of departure 100%.”
    3. Ultimate hubris: “I MAKE the weather!”

  2. DISBELIEF
    1. The dawning realization that this day is the same as the last
    2. To the B&B proprietor on Day 2: “Chance of departure 80%. 75, 80%”
    3. On camera on Day 2: “Well, it’s groundhog Day… again.”
    4. “Well what if there isn’t a tomorrow? There wasn’t one today!”

  3. MISCHIEF
    1. Stealing money from the armored car
    2. One-night stands
    3. Driving on the railroad tracks
    4. To the police officer: “Is it too early for pancakes?”
    5. Going to the movie theater in costume w/ a hooker
    6. Jeopardy: “What is Lake Titicaca?” — and then swigging Jim Beam

  4. DESPAIR
    1. “I’ll give you a winter prediction: it’s going to be cold, it’s going to be gray, and it’s going to last you the rest of your life.”
    2. Suicide! By: car crash, electrocution, jumping off a building, stepping in front of a truck. Also being stabbed, shot, poisoned, and burned

  5. ACCEPTANCE — sort of
    1. He tells the truth to Rita: “I’m A god. Not THE God… I don’t think.”
    2. While she’s asleep he tells her he loves her. The next morning he begins:

  6. SELF-IMPROVEMENT
    1. Reading literature
    2. Playing piano
    3. Ice sculpting (!)

  7. ALTRUISM
    1. Trying to save the old man — which can’t be done. He’s not a God
    2. Saving the falling kid
    3. Changing the tire
    4. Heimlich on the old man mayor

  8. TRANSCENDENCE
    1. “No matter what happens tomorrow, or for the rest of my life, I’m happy now, because I love you.”
    2. “Something’s different… anything different is good!”
    3. “Let’s live here! (We’ll rent to start.)”

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  • webcastboy

    Too early for flapjacks?

    Speaking of weather predictions, can someone please flog all of Boston’s TV weathermen for screaming “SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW!!!!” over and over last night, and then today we wake up and there’s not one damn flake out there?

  • BB

    He performs the heimlich on the mayor, doesn’t he?