Mean-spirited TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day festival at a small town called Punxsutawney, in Pennsylvania.
Stranded by a snowstorm, which he failed to predict, Phil inexplicably wakes up the following morning to discover that it’s still the day before, and it slowly dawns on the world-weary forecaster that he is trapped in a town he hates, living the same day (2 February) over and over and over again.
For a while, he enjoys taking advantage of his deja vu knowledge – especially of how to impress his long-suffering producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell).
Next, frustration leads him to various forms of suicide, but he still wakes up the next day.
Eventually, he learns humility and many other skills along the way before he is finally allowed to see 3 February.
Bill Murray gives one of the best performances of his career, Director Harold Ramis uses every cinematic trick in the book to keep what is essentially a one-gag movie brimming with life and fresh ideas, and Stephen Tobolowsky gives a superb turn as a nerdy insurance salesman.
The film actually shows Phil live through 2 February 34 times, but, in fact, there must have been a much longer period of repeating when the following events are considered:
- Phil becomes an expert piano player, which even for a gifted student must take at the very least one year of constant practice.
- He becomes adept at ice sculpture – which must take at least a year.
- He becomes a medical doctor which, in the US, takes at least six years (he says that Doctor is an honorary title, but this seems to be him just being modest).
- He learns exactly what is going on at all times to everyone in the town. No mean feat – let’s call that two years!
- Finally, he talks of learning to throw cards into a hat by practising for 4 or 5 hours a day for six months.
It would seem reasonable to assume, therefore, that Phil relives Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney for between 8 and 10 years!
Although the story is based in Punxsutawney – the ‘Groundhog Capital’ – the movie was actually filmed on location in Woodstock, Illinois.
Doris the waitress