Groundhog Day

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Groundhog Day

I watched this movie twice in one day in the fall of 2006, the second time with the director's comments turned on. When I mentioned doing so in class, a student said, "That's redundant!"  :-O

Some notes from that afternoon (no guarantee that my day count matches anyone else's):

In my count of "days," I am only talking about the days shown onscreen. There may be many days between my "Day 1" and my "Day 2." There are certainly thousands and thousands of days that we don't see during which Phil learnsa and changes a great deal.

Stuck in samsara

Rita to Phil (?): "Where would you like to be?"

Prologue: weather show, Feb 1.

In the van en route to Punxsutawney, Phil says it's his fourth year doing Groundhog Day. "This will be the last time."

Phil: "People are morons."

Day 1

Phil: "They're hicks, Rita!"

Rita: "Try it again without the sarcasm."

Day 2

First slap in the face.

Phil: "What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today!"

Day 3

Psychologist to Phil: "How's tomorrow for you?"

In the bowling alley:

Phil (after telling a story about a day on a beach with a girlfriend): "Why couldn't I get that day over?"
Phil: "What would you do if there's no tomorrow?"
Bowler: "We could do whatever we wanted."
They go out and break a lot of taboos.
Phil: "I'm not going to live by their rules any more. I'm going to make choices and live with them." [That is the essential idea of karma.]

Path of Desire


Day 4

Hits Ned.

Pigs out at the diner: coffee, cigarette, junk food. "I don't worry about anything."

Sir Walter Scott poem.

"You're egocentric. It's your defining characteristic."

Starts to court Nancy Taylor.

Day 5

Seduces Nancy. "Oh, Rita! ... Will you be my wife?"

Day 6

Steals money. Buys a Rolls Royce.

Heidi II playing at the theater. Phil in Clint Eastwood costume, girl in French maid's uniform. "Call me Bronco."

Day 7

"If you only had one day, what would you do?"

Starts talking to Rita. "What do you want out of life? ... What I really want is some one like you."

Attributes Rita seeks: humble, intelligent, funny, romantic, good body, kind, sensitive, gentle, plays an instrument, loves his mother.


Days 8-10

Drinks. "World peace." "Go with the flow." 19th century French poetry. "I love you." "You don't know me! You'll never love anyone but yourself." Slap #2.

Days 11-18

Slapped in the face eight times.

Day 19

Groundhog scene.

Day 20

Jeopardy with folks at B&B. PJs, popcorn, scotch.

Day 21

Phil rages at his fate during the festivities: "It's going to be cold and gray and it will last for the rest of your life."

Days 22-24

Breaks alarm clock.

Day 25

"Blah, blah, blah." Decides to kill the groundhog. Takes him driving. Commits suicide in the quarry.

"He might be OK."

Crashed truck bursts into flames.

Day 26


Day 27

Steps in front of truck.

Day 28

High jump off building. In the morgue, Larry pretends to care about Phil: "He was a great guy." (He will be by the end of the movie.)

Path of Renunciation


Day ?? Ice sculpture

Day 29

"I'm a god--not the God. I've been stabbed, shot, poisoned, hung, electrocuted, burned. I am an immortal."

Rita: "I've had twelve years of Catholic school and I know you're not God."

Phil demonstrates that he is virtually omniscient. Debbie and Fred (engaged couple).

Rita spends the whole day with him. Card throwing. "Be the hat." Six months, 4-5 hours a day, to acquire the skill.

Rita: "Is this what you do with eternity?"

"Maybe it's not a curse."

"Really nice day."

Midnight: "You're still here!"

3:02 AM. No sex.

Poems for Every Mood: "Only God can make a tree."

"You're the kindest, sweetest person." Kisses her. "I don't deserve someone like you--if I did, I would love you ... Good night."

Day 30

Gives money to the beggar. Brings coffee and donuts for Rita and Larry and helps with the setup. While reading a book in a coffee shop, he smiles at the piano music on the radio. Starts taking lessons.

Day 31

Kisses the fellow on the staircase outside his bedroom door. "A dream of spring." Ice sculpture.

Day 32

Piano lesson.

Day 33

Hugs Ned. Terrifies him. With the beggar in the hospital at night. "It was just his time ... Sometimes people just die." "Not today."

Day 34

Phil feeds the old man but he dies in the alley anyway.


Day 35

Chekhov: "There is no better fate than a long and lustrous winter." Errands to run. Catches kid falling out of a tree, takes care of a flat tire for some elderly women, saves Buster with the Heimlich maneuver in a restaurant, lights a cigarette for a nearby woman.

Larry hits on Nancy. Takes $1 back from tip after her back is turned. Phil at the piano. "Welcome to our party."

Long list of thanks for all the things he's done that day. "Dr. Connors" (back surgery?), tire, Heimlich.

Bachelor auction. Rita bids $339.88. Phil bought insurance from Ned. "Best day of my life." Ice sculpture of Rita. "No matter what happens tomorrow and for the rest of my life, I'm happy now because I love you."

February 3rd

"Today is tomorrow. You're here!"
"Last night, you just fell asleep."
"Is there anything I can do for you today?"

Outdoors: "Let's live here!" "We'll rent to start."

Last song: "Almost like being in love."

Notes from other commentators on the DVD:

Danny Rubin

The script writer is a Zen Buddhist. The movie is about existential issues. It is meant to represent thousands of years of development. "He can live forever."

"Do what you can do in the moment to make things better."

Steve Tobolowksy

Tobolowsky is the actor who plays Ned.

The movie is about happiness.
She is excellence. He is suffering.
In the end, he comes back from immortality to mortality.
The progression is from a pointless life to a life filled with meaning.


I have to correct my count. WhatCulture counts 38 days shown in the movie. They calculate 12,395 days total--"33 years, 350 days."

Here is their list of days:

Day 01 First broadcast "Does Phil feel lucky?"
Day 02 The first repetition Alarm clock, "I've got you, babe."
Day 03 The Pencil Test The broken pencil is whole the next day.
Day 04 Sick of Ned Punches Ned.
Day 05 Lying to Nancy "I sat next to you in Mrs. Walsh's English class."
Day 06 Learning the sequence: +42 days Stealing from armored truck at the bank.
Day 07 Seeing Hedi 2 with French Maid. "Call me Bronco."
Day 08 Engineering the near-perfect date Trying to seduce Rita.
Day 09 Engineering the near-perfect date "So what do you want out of life anyway?"

"What I really want is someone like you."

Day 10 Engineering the near-perfect date "Can I buy you a drink?"

"Jim Beam, ice, water."

Day 11 Engineering the near-perfect date "Can I buy you a drink?"

"Sweet vermouth, rocks, with a twist, please."
"What should we drink to?"

Day 12 Engineering the near-perfect date "World peace."

"I studied 19th-century French poetry."

Day 13 The bad perfect date Murray quotes a line of French poetry: "La fille que j'aimera Sera comme bon vin Qui se bonifiera Un peux chaques matin."
"The girl I’ll love
is like a wine
who will get better
a little bit/every morning."[1]
Day 14 Date fails: +2 days Slap.
Day 15 Date fails 2 Slap.
Day 16 Date fails 3 Slap.
Day 17 Date fails 4 Slap.
Day 18 Date fails 5 Slap.
Day 19 Date fails 6. Slap.
Day 20 Date fails 7. Slap.
Day 21 Date fails Slap.
Day 22 "Phil you look terrible."

"It's going to be cold and gray and it will last for the rest of your life."

Day 23 Jeopardy
Day 24 "This is pitiful."
Day 25 Breaking the alarm clock.
Day 26 Breaking the alarm clock.
Day 27 Breaking the alarm clock.
Day 28 Kidnapping Punxsutawney Phil
Day 29 Phil's suicides
Day 30 Phil's suicides
Day 31 Phil's suicides
Day 32 "I'm a god!" "I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned."
Day 33 First piano lessons
Day 34 First piano lessons
Day 35 First piano lessons
Day 36 Sexually harassing Ned
Day 37 Looking after a homeless man
Day 38 The final Groundhog Day