The beginning of the spring semester is a turbulent time. Students have taken a much-needed break, but the festivities of the fall and early winter are no longer around to distract from Binghamton’s icy weather or the schoolwork that is already picking up. As we move closer toward springtime, however, we remember those holidays that bring the hope of a new beginning. I am speaking, of course, of Groundhog Day.
A day of hope for warmer days or comfortable time indoors, depending on Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction, this holiday brings about the perfect opportunity to spend some time with friends and get festive again during the cold winter months. There is no better way to celebrate such an important holiday than to get into a celebratory mood, get together with some friends and watch Bill Murray’s groundbreaking 1993 film, “Groundhog Day.”
This whimsical movie follows the cynical and rude — yet superbly named — Phil Connors, played by Murray, as he relives the same day over and over and over — Feb. 2, 1993. Accompanied by his work colleagues, Rita — played by Andie MacDowell — and Larry — played by Chris Elliot — this quick-witted weatherman reluctantly takes his annual trip from Pittsburgh to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in order to report on Punxsutawney Phil’s seasonal forecast. Connors could never have been able to predict, however, that he would end up stuck on the same day. The minute changes that are made throughout Connors’ first repeat of Groundhog Day instantly change the path he leads throughout those 24 hours. Greater changes lead him on all kinds of wild adventures as each day repeats. As he begins to come to terms with the fact that he is living a loop of the same day, the true themes of “Groundhog Day” begin to reveal themselves — those of self-discovery and enjoyment of life as it is.
The unique plot and intense character development present throughout “Groundhog Day” sets this film apart from other comedies. Connors is not the only character within this film that adapts to fit his situation. Each character becomes at least slightly more open to different perspectives and learns to understand each other. While this film is meant to be a romantic comedy, featuring a budding romance beginning over and over again, it does not center the romantic portion so much that the rest of the plot is forgotten. Rather than being a romantic movie with some jokes, “Groundhog Day” is a sarcastic and snarky movie with well-developed relationships that are uncovered more and more as the film progresses. The real focus of this movie is not so much the story of courtship — but the progression of relationships that began somewhat hostile because each party did not understand the other. As Connors becomes more genuine and learns that his dry humor and dedication to doing great things can be used for good, not just to put others down, his workplace acquaintanceships turn into real friendships.
Once stripped of all of its witty banter and cynical takes on life, “Groundhog Day” is truly a movie about having a positive outlook. It does not focus on the stress of Connor’s life or the job that brought him to Punxsutawney for the celebration to begin with. The major focus of this movie is the way that day after day, Connors takes the time to get to know the people around him, even if the next morning they will have forgotten all about it. He stops pretending to be someone he is not and instead forms connections with the townsfolk that he once despised simply because he did not know them. Connors discovers his passion for helping others and being within a community, and the hope and newness that comes about within him by the end of the movie is not unlike the hope for spring during a long and hard winter.
Overall, “Groundhog Day” is a moving film that is perfect for celebrating the most anticipated holiday of the coming month. This incredible movie is just as culturally relevant now as it was when it was released 30 years ago, so if you’re looking for a movie that will make you laugh, cry and think about life from a whole new perspective, definitely give this film a watch. Perhaps you could ask yourself if you had eternity to relive the same day, what would you do with all of your extra time? How do you make the most of every day now?