Groundhog Day at 30 and the Riddle of Bill Murray

Thirty years on, the spiritually evocative, time-bending comedy is as beloved as ever, but its legendary star has been subjected to new scrutiny over reports of inappropriate behavior.


The 30th anniversary of Groundhog Day arrives this weekend overshadowed by recent reports of, and renewed attention to, allegations of inappropriate behavior by Bill Murray. Last month Geena Davis offered new details about an incident mentioned in her 2021 memoir in which Murray pressured her into letting him use a massage device called the Thumper on her while shooting the 1990 crime comedy Quick Change. A few months earlier, video of Murray and Davis promoting the movie on “The Arsenio Hall Show” received new scrutiny after Davis described the moment as “stunning” and “awful.” In the video Murray nuzzles and strokes Davis, pulling her dress strap off her shoulder—all on nationally syndicated television. Nor is it all old news: In April 2022, production on a film called Being Mortal was suspended after a female production assistant alleged that the 72-year-old actor began kissing her body through the mask he was wearing, then straddled her and kissed her on her also masked mouth. Murray said his actions were meant to be “funny, and it wasn’t taken that way.”

The creepiness of these incidents contrasts jarringly with the fond mythology around Murray as a benignly whimsical spirit, even an unlikely sage. Murray’s well-established penchant for unpredictable behavior both among his peers and with random people in public ranges from bizarre, almost surreal performance art—for example, shouting nonsense at passersby like “There’s a lobster loose!” or “You are on fire!”—to charmingly ordinary interactions at parties he wasn’t invited to. For many devotees, Murray’s unconventional behavior is connected to his affinity for the Armenian philosopher G.I. Gurdjieff, who maintained that most people live in a state of “waking sleep” and whose life teachings are a program for waking to higher consciousness. Titles like The Tao of Bill Murray: Real-life Stories of Joy, Enlightenment and Party Crashing and The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man (respectively, a book by Gavin Edwards and a documentary by Tommy Avallone) well express Murray’s popular Zen mystique.

Yet this rarefied image has long coexisted with reports of Murray being inappropriate and abrasive. Notable incidents include allegedly screaming abuse at costars from Richard Dreyfuss (What About Bob?) to Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels) and grabbing Solange Knowles’s scalp with both hands after repeatedly asking if her hair was a wig (following a 2016 performance of her song Don’t Touch My Hair, no less). To an extent the two images do overlap and blend: Unlike, say, Tom Hanks or Keanu Reeves, with their gold-plated reputations for uncomplicated niceness, Murray’s image, both onscreen and off, has always juxtaposed charm and appeal with obnoxious, sometimes antisocial behavior. He comes across, in fact, as a charming jerk, even if over the years the “charming” side of the picture has come to predominate.

Phil Connors and Bill Murray before and after

Groundhog Day looms so large in Murray’s career that it’s tempting to see it as a turning point personally as well as professionally. For over a dozen years prior to Groundhog Day, Murray’s caustic, anarchic persona anchored irreverent comedy blockbusters like Caddyshack, Stripes, and Scrooged. After Groundhog Day Murray stumbled in studio vehicles like The Man Who Knew Too Little, but found new success as a quieter, jaded presence in indies by Wes Anderson and Sophia Coppola, among others. It was during this period of self-reinvention that he fired his agent, and that his interactions with ordinary people began to shift from Dadaesque confrontation to random acts of generosity and affability that, for many, make the world a more magical place.

When we hear about Murray going to game 6 of the 2016 World Series in Cleveland with an extra ticket and ushering a surprised woman in a Cubs jersey with no ticket into the stadium and the seat next to his behind home plate, we may be reminded of Final Form Phil Connors, on the last, near-perfect iteration of Groundhog Day, surprising newlywed wrestling fans Debbie and Fred with tickets to WrestleMania. Lacking Phil’s foreknowledge of all events in Punxsutawney on February 2, Murray naturally can’t arrange to be at the right place at the right time to change a flat tire, catch a kid falling from a tree, or perform the Heimlich maneuver on a choking man. What he can do is show up and perhaps do whatever may be needful: play roadie for a band; drive a taxicab to let the driver practice playing saxophone; win over cops called over a noise complaint at a house party he crashed.

The flip side, alas, is that Day 1 Phil Connors crudely harassing Andie MacDowell’s Rita with lewd one-liners (“Would you help me with my pelvic tilt?”) seems uncomfortably akin to Murray in 1990 pressuring Davis to let him try the Thumper on her. Phil’s contempt and hostility toward his coworkers, notably Chris Elliot’s cameraman Larry, isn’t too far from Murray shouting “Everyone hates you! You are tolerated!” at Dreyfuss. Day 1 Phil is an arrogant, narcissistic jerk whose negative traits were at least partly tailored for Murray’s established screen persona at the time, which was in turn not entirely unreflective of his real-life disposition. But, equally, Final Form Phil is the most compelling realization of a quest for redemption running through earlier Murray films, notably Scrooged and his passion project The Razor’s Edge. Ae the echoes of Final Form Phil in Murray’s later life a case of life imitating art? Art reflecting life aspirations? Coincidence? Some combination of all three? Whatever the case, later allegations of inappropriate behavior regarding Knowles and the production assistant suggest that Murray’s evolution may not be as complete as Final Form Phil’s.

If such incidents aren’t necessarily Day 1 Phil behavior, perhaps there’s some Transitional Phil in the mix: for example, the iterations of Phil who sucker-punch Stephen Tobolowsky’s Ned Ryerson or embrace him a little too affectionately; who warmly salute Ken Hudson Campbell’s Man in Hallway with a kiss on each cheek and a poetic benediction from Coleridge. These versions of Transitional Phil startlingly defy social norms, because, of course, there are no lasting consequences (“I’m not going to live by their rules anymore”). A level of immunity to consequences also comes with celebrity and artistic eccentricity. Sigourney Weaver has said that when she first met Murray on location for Ghostbusters, he immediately scooped her up and carried her down the block over his shoulder. While Weaver regards Murray as “pure fun” and says there’s “nothing malicious about him,” someone else might reasonably feel differently about such treatment. According to Davis, when she finally submitted to the Thumper, Murray used it on her for just a second and then didn’t ask her how it felt, leading her to conclude that “it was just to see if he could force me to do something inappropriate.”

Gavin Edwards, author of The Tao of Bill Murray, thinks the bizarre behavior more associated with the younger Murray and the disarmingly normal interactions with ordinary people over the last couple of decades may be closer akin than they may seem. “While once he needed to wrestle passersby to the ground or rant about lobsters on the loose to get a reaction from strangers,” he wrote to me via email, “I suspect that at a certain point he realized that he could get a similar jolt (with a different texture) by just showing up.” But perhaps with a celebrity like Knowles, or even a production assistant, showing up isn’t enough. Yet, in the #MeToo era, Murray’s history of immunity to consequences also isn’t enough, and there’s wider recognition that the way he treated Davis was never okay. By the same token, Day 1 Phil’s gross harassment of Rita feels ickier today than it was meant to 30 years ago. (Likewise Transitional Phil’s cynical, manipulative seduction of Marita Geraghty’s Nancy Taylor, played for laughs in the film’s consequence-free zone. The musical adaptation, which I saw on Broadway in 2017, includes a memorable ballad called “Playing Nancy” that implicitly critiques the disposable treatment of the character in the original film.)

Open-ended redemption

Given these complications, how persuasive is Groundhog Day’s redemptive arc in 2023? That’s a knotty type of question for any film, but perhaps particularly for this one, given the diversity of responses and interpretations it inspires. Part of the film’s staying power, in fact, is the metaphorical open-endedness of the time-bending premise, which is crucially left unexplained, along with the secret of Phil’s ultimate release. Groundhog Day has been compared to It’s a Wonderful Life, but there’s no Clarence explaining what’s going on and spelling out the moral. As a result, commenting on the film’s meaning has a bit of a Rorschach vibe, particularly regarding its much-discussed spiritual or religious resonances.

To Buddhists (and the Buddhism-adjacent, including Jewish director Harold Ramis, who was married to Buddhist actress Erica Mann), the cyclical pattern in which Phil finds himself, from which even death is no release, naturally suggests a parable about reincarnation and karma. More specifically, if imprecisely, the stages Phil passes through on his journey—starting with hedonism and selfishness, leading to despair, followed by efforts at self-improvement culminating in compassion and enlightenment—are reminiscent of the paths of desire and renunciation in Hinduism, with their successive stages of seeking pleasure, pursuing worldly success, embracing duty, and finally achieving liberation. For Catholics, on the other hand, it’s natural to see an image of purgatory in Phil’s gradual progression from egocentrism and ambition to unselfishness, generosity, and love.

A subtheme notable for Christian viewers is hubris and humility. From Day 1, Phil shows hints of a deity complex. “I make the weather!” he snaps at a state trooper over a highway closing. “Chance of departure today: 100%,” he had quipped that morning to the landlady at his bed and breakfast, recalling the aphorism about making God laugh by telling him your plans. Later, after amassing encyclopedic knowledge of everyone in Punxsutawney and everything that happens on that day, Phil tells a skeptical Rita he’s “a god…I’m not the God—I don’t think.” Yet minutes later he admits that his crazy story has to be the truth because “I’m not that smart.”

Finally, in a poignant late sequence, Phil discovers that the homeless beggar he often dodged first thing in the morning dies that evening in an alley, and spends an unknown number of iterations trying to save his life. “Sometimes people just die,” a nurse tells him, but Phil resists this: “Not today.” Yet no matter what he does, he can’t save this man’s life. This haunting failure is immediately followed by the final Groundhog Day and the liberation of the next day. The last lesson for Phil, dramatically speaking, is his own finitude and his inability to control everything, no matter how many chances he might be given.

Part of my own response to the film, as the credits roll, is reflecting that Phil has learned the secret of living supremely well…on February 2 of one particular year. The dawning of February 3 is obviously an occasion of euphoric joy, and hard-won habits of contentment, gratitude, and generosity will doubtless ease the days ahead—but every new day will also present Phil with surprises and new challenges, and it’s been a very long time since anything surprised or challenged him. Phil’s redemptive arc, then, is not yet complete; he remains a work in progress. So, I hope, am I, and Bill Murray.

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About Steven D. Greydanus 50 Articles
Steven D. Greydanus is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, a permanent deacon in the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, and the founder of He has degrees in media arts and religious studies. He and his wife Suzanne have seven children.


    • Brother deacon Peitler, you may be interested in these notes on some the Church’s positive, appreciative interactions with the world of film. Or, if you are not, other readers may be.

      1. Pope Pius XII in 1955 delivered two addresses to representatives of the Italian film industry on the potential of films to offer “some reflection of the true, the good, the beautiful: in a word, a ray of God.” Strikingly, the pope acknowledges that this can be achieved “even a somewhat superficial entertainment…since man has shallows as well as depths.” (Pope Pius XII was reportedly a fan of the Academy Best Picture award winner Going My Way, starring Bing Crosby as a relatively hip priest—a movie I would classify as “shallow,” but still relatively entertaining and worthwhile.)

      2. 1995 was a notable year for the Church’s engagement with the world of film. First, Pope St. John Paul II addressing the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, stated, “The Church’s overall judgment of this art form, as of all genuine art, is positive and hopeful. We have seen that masterpieces of the art of film making can be moving challenges to the human spirit, capable of dealing in depth with subjects of great meaning and importance from an ethical and spiritual point of view.”

      3. Next, in his 29th World Communications Day address, John Paul II highlighted the potential of cinema as an instrument of cultural exchange and evangelization while also noting the dangers of its misuse.

      4. Finally, the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications published a list of 45 outstanding films representing a dozen countries, culled from the early silent era to the late 1980s, including both popular fare (Capra, Disney) and challenging art films (Bergman, Tarkovsky).

      5. Two years later, in 1997, John Paul II invited Italian director Roberto Benigni to a Vatican screening of Life is Beautiful. In 2001 the Vatican hosted a special screening for 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of the 45 films on the Vatican film list. In 2004 Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was privately screened for John Paul II, leading to controversy over the pope’s reported verdict “It is as it was.”

      6. Following his death, a pair of English-language biopics about John Paul II were screened at the Vatican’s Pope Paul VI Hall with Pope Benedict XVI in attendance. The first, Karol: A Man who Became Pope, was scheduled to premiere at the Vatican in early April with John Paul II in attendance, but the Pope’s death on April 2 delayed the Vatican screening. The next year Pope Benedict attended the Vatican screening of the sequel, known in English as Karol: The Pope, The Man. Shortly afterwards, The Nativity Story became the first film to premiere at the Vatican.

      7. Rome’s annual Tertio Millennio International Festival of Spiritual Cinema dates to 1996. It was created by the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, the Pontifical Commission for Culture, and La Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo, an Italian Catholic film organization with close ties to the Vatican and the Italian film industry.

      8. The Tertio Millennio festival’s Robert Bresson Prize, named for French Catholic filmmaker Robert Bresson (Diary of a Country Priest), is awarded each year for special achievement in spiritual filmmaking. The first Bresson Prize was awarded in 2000 to Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso, 1988). Other winners include Manoel de Oliveira, Theo Angelopoulos, Krzysztof Zanussi, Wim Wenders, Jerzy Stuhr, Zhang Yuan and Alexander Sokurov. This year’s winner was Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, for Broker, one of my top 10 films of 2022.)

      (Notes adapted from my own entry on the Church and film from the New Catholic Encyclopedia: 2009 Supplement)

      • I’ve read your comments. I happily concede that there have been films that have been made that edify the human heart. You name some. However, when considering the thousand upon thousands of films made, most, in my estimation, are reflections of an unredeemed (not to be confused with unredeemable) culture. To that point, it would be a waste of my time and resources to sit through most of them. I couldn’t imagine sharing your interest in film. It, for me, would be like a museum devoted to only works by Jackson Pollock or the artist (name escapes me) whose museum masterpiece was a urinal.

        • Thank you for reading, brother deacon.

          I absolutely agree with you that most movies are mediocre to bad; for that matter, some are downright dangerous. For that matter, most of a lot of stuff produced in any given year is mediocre to bad to maybe dangerous: most books, most philosophy, even most homilies. I don’t recommend wading through everything, or most things. Even I don’t wade through most things! I see fewer than 100 new films a year (compared to some friends of mine who see that many in a month or less), and most of what I see is carefully chosen, either because it’s interesting to me or because I know a lot of my readers are interested. Part of my job is to find and call out the rare gems. Hearing from someone who says “I had never even heard of (say) Petite Maman until you reviewed it and it was wonderful, thank you so much” is one of the most rewarding parts of being a critic.

          But it’s more than that. If that were the extent of my job, I could skip the reviews and just write lists of recommended and non-recommended titles, maybe with a brief synopsis and other basic information. Part of the value of long-form criticism is that by “showing my work,” I help receptive readers sharpen their own observations and critical skills. I don’t just want to give readers fish, I want to teach them to fish. I don’t care if they agree or disagree with my opinions—in fact, an opinion one disagrees with is sometimes the most helpful thing in pushing you to think through and articulate your own contrary opinion. Sometimes an appreciative review helps me understand better why I disliked something; other times a critical take helps me to like it with deeper appreciation and insight. (And, of course, sometimes I’m persuaded and wind up changing my mind, or at least complicating my views.)

          It’s also worth noting (in the spirit of the Pius XII observation about the potential value of even shallow works) that a wide, appreciative receptivity to whatever is of value in a broad spectrum of works enriches our lives. C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves:

          By having a great many friends I do not prove that I have a wide appreciation of human excellence. You might as well say I prove the width of my literary taste by being able to enjoy all the books in my own study. The answer is the same in both cases — ‘You chose those books. You chose those friends. Of course they suit you.’ The truly wide taste in reading is that which enables a man to find something for his needs on the sixpenny tray outside any secondhand bookshop.

          Finally, at the end of the day, the process of chewing over why something does or doesn’t work can be its own reward. A great work is illuminating, but hashing out why another work isn’t great can also be illuminating. An elegant refutation of a bad argument is a thing of beauty, but it’s a thing of beauty that would never exist if no one engaged the argument in the first place. The late, great Time critic Richard Corliss (by all accounts a lovely man) had a stock answer to the question “What’s worth watching?” He would reply “Everything is worth watching.” Not, of course, because everything is enjoyable, but because even disliking something in a new way can shed new light on aspects of the world and ourselves and enlarge our understanding of reality.

          Not everyone is called or cut out to be a critic, to watch a lot of movies, or to watch any at all. Not everyone is called or cut out to be a deacon, or a parent, a teacher, a miner, an artist, a consecrated religious, a mechanic, a healthcare worker, an exorcist, a professional athlete, or anything else—except, of course, that we are all called to be saints. By pursuing sanctity in a wide variety of pursuits and contexts, we give fuller expression to the infinite riches of the Imago Dei in the full range of human potential.

          • Again, I very much appreciate your thoughts and, I confess, have a greater respect for your calling as a film reviewer. I just find in my dotage that I have limited tolerance these days for the noxious elements in today’s culture and need to insulate myself from them for the sake of my sanctity – fragile as it is. I spent many years immersed in and trying to ameliorate individuals’ drowning the the cultural swamp.

          • Thanks, brother. That means a lot to me.

            I respect your discernment that this whole area isn’t for you. I think humanity would be poorer without movies, but no individual person is poorer for making the prudential decision to cut movies out of their life and dedicate themselves to other things. Pruning even living branches makes the remaining branches more fruitful. That’s what the coming season of Lent is all about. Carry on, and God bless your ministry.

  1. Hollywood is a very strange place and so are a number of its inhabitants.
    Groundhog Day though is worth watching. I think there’s a couple of non family friendly moments but otherwise a great film.

    • The scene I mentioned above where Phil uses his ability to redo events to seduce a woman named Nancy Taylor is the most glaring non-family-friendly moment. But the scene is unfortunate for other reasons, notably that, unlike Gus and Ralph, whose car Phil wrecks in an early iteration, Nancy never gets a later moment allowing us to see her character in another light. Okay, so actually only Gus gets a later moment: We learn that he hates Punxsutawney and regrets not staying in the Navy long enough to retire on half pay. It’s something that makes his character more than a punchline. But Nancy is seen solely as a sex object; we learn only that she works in a shop and “makes noises like a chipmunk when she gets excited.” Phil’s iterative seduction act doesn’t work on Rita because she’s a character with dignity in the film. Alas, Nancy isn’t, and this does mar the film, though the movie’s merits, for me and many others, far outweigh its flaws.

      • Yup, that part of the movie was disappointing for sure but that’s what the “fast-forward” feature of my remote control was made for. I got pretty adept at skipping through objectionable material when my children were younger.

      • My computer was down, and I came across this article a few days late, but I share your view that given the thousands of films produced, we can sift and find a percentage with literary merit that can elevate our moral and spritual senses. I know nothing of Mr. Murray, but I did enjoy Groundhog Day as a loose allegory of a pergatorial story. I could form a long list of my “Catholic films,” but I’ll mention one overlooked film that resonated with one of my late wife’s apostolate programs of reaching out to women in prison, this film being, “The Spitfire Grill.” She sent DVD copies to several women’s prison libraries. The movie’s redemptive theme of a woman released from prison was so powerful, cynical film critics had to admit liking it, then later apologized for liking it when it was revealed that a Catholic priest was involved in its production.

  2. Thanks Steve, good reflection on a not-great but not-insignificant actor and a not-great but not-insignificant film.

    Our spiritual progress is, for those who accept grace but still stumble, an upward spiral, not a straight line, an idea that first hit me long ago upon seeing the early 60s film The Spiral Road, with Rock Hudson and Burl Ives playing doctors on the far east, a film that maybe deserves to be remembered more than it is.

    I am profoundly tired of all the long-after-the-fact bringing up of people’s sins, usually these days of white males. There is something profoundly wrong, for instance, about the cancelling of Garrison Keillor because of an unwanted stroke on the back, or the shaming of Grandpa Bush because he pinched a young lady’s butt. The latter, after all, at the age of 17, volunteered to risk his life in the South Pacific, and later stood tall for de-segregation in Texas. And as an elderly man, losing the self-discipline that often comes with old age, he gets shamed before the nation for something that maybe, just maybe, a young person could have simply forgiven. Likewise Keillor, who gave much delight to many of us over a couple decades, maybe didn’t deserve to lose all that affection because he touched a woman’s bare back.

    Okay, maybe my Neanderthal blood is expressing itself here, but most of what Murray is accused of, though worse than these two examples, somehow doesn’t produce outrage in me, I’d say his personal arrogance is probably the great sin. Go ahead and hoot, MeToo generation.

    • Thanks, Mark. I don’t know that I feel outrage over Murray’s inappropriate behavior either, but I watched the video of Murray nuzzling and stroking Geena Davis on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” and it’s just gross. Davis is clearly uncomfortable, and Murray is using his willingness to defy social expectations to put her in the awkward position of either tolerating it or biting the bullet and causing a scene on nationally syndicated television during a performance where she and Bill are supposed to be hyping a movie they’re both in. And Arsenio rolls with it, treating Bill’s behavior as a harmless eccentricity. During the incident with the Thumper, Davis later said she was looking at the co-director and the producer who were in the room, hoping that they would do something (“say ‘Come on, Bill, give it up’ or something”), but they didn’t. This, to me, is part of the value of these stories: We recognize how a manipulative person makes bystanders unwittingly complicit in his inappropriate actions. This may help us recognize when people around us might need our support, even if they don’t or can’t ask for it.

  3. The timelessness, charm, importance etc. of the movie has escaped me from day one.

    It’s amusing to a point, which point is quickly reached, and after that it becomes boring. Bill Murray is Bill Murray – IMO nothing special as an actor, although he was funny as one of the originals on SNL.

    Given the above – his late-in-life antics are nothing special, in fact kind of pathetic.

    • There are plenty of widely beloved and admired films I don’t respond to, or at least haven’t yet responded to. I love Cary Grant and I love screwball comedy, but I do not love the acclaimed Cary Grant screwball comedies The Awful Truth and His Girl Friday. I accept that Fellini is a genius and that La Strada is a great film, but its greatness escapes me (or, again, it has so far). I love Hayao Miyazaki, and I recognize that Princess Mononoke is one of his most admired films, but I find it unappealing for reasons that are persuasive to me, though I’m far from certain that my arguments are better founded than those of its fans.

      Critics generally propound their opinions with great confidence, but a good critic must have the humility to recognize that his position is in a way like a lawyer in court, arguing for a particular interpretation or construal of facts that may reasonably or even more persuasively bear other interpretations: construals he must engage with an open mind. And, not so much like the lawyer, he should be open to having his mind changed or his perspective expanded by those who may see what he doesn’t. And the views of those who see merit in a given work have a certain priority over those who don’t. From C.S. Lewis’s An Experiment in Criticism:

      In order to pronounce a book bad it is not enough to discover that it elicits no good response from ourselves, for that might be our fault. In calling a book bad we are claiming not that it can elicit bad reading, but that it can’t elicit good. This negative proposition can never be certain. I may say ‘If I were to take pleasure in this book it could only be for the pleasure of transitory thrills, or wishful reverie, or agreement with the author’s opinions’. But others may be able to do what I can’t.

      When a work is found to be consistently engaging and entertaining by countless fans over many rewatchings over a number of decades, the person who finds it “boring” has, at best, discovered something about himself, not the work. When a work is as widely and well-loved as Groundhog Day, and especially when it is loved in complex, rich ways, with genuinely good ideas and insights bound up in discussion around the film and its themes, then I think it behooves those who “don’t see it” (and, again, I include myself in this in connection with some works, though not this one) not to make too much of their own lack of appreciation.

      To a taxicab driver who plays the saxophone and a loyal Cubs fan from Whiting, Indiana, among many other humans, Murray gave a precious gift they will cherish all their lives. If you want to judge that “pathetic,” well, we must all judge according to our wit and charity. I hope whatever you’re doing with your life give you joy and a sense of meaning and contributing to a greater good.

      • I stand by what I said.
        You take my opinion entirely too seriously. I don’t “make too much of my own lack of appreciation” – I just don’t find him particularly appealing or gifted, or witty, or whatever, and the movie doesn’t appeal to me.

        I would agree with Michael Brennick that hs is “moderately funny but obnoxious.”

  4. I’ve been aware of Murray since his debut with SNL. I’ve never been an admirer of his film work.Some of his earlier sketch comedy could be clever, but he’s not a comic genius by any stretch. He’s always struck me as a moderately funny but obnoxious. Hollyweirdian.

  5. I used to use Groundhog Day in my high school theology classes to illustrate the beauty of our liturgical calendar and season, repeating year after year. Talk of ongoing, lifelong conversion, as Steven elucidated in his article. Good!

    • Thanks for sharing that, brother deacon. The film’s religious resonances invite all kinds of responses. How interesting to think about Groundhog Day in terms of the repetition of the liturgical calendar! Of course Phil is trapped in an endless winter in which (in a kind of counterpoint to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) Christmas is always exactly 40 days ago, and Easter is inaccessible on the far side of a vernal equinox that never arrives. Yet, in liturgical time, what matters most is the ever-present “Today,” which has its own fixed cycle of 24 hours, morning, afternoon, evening, night: the whole of life in miniature, corresponding in its own way to the cycle of the seasons. By the final iteration, Phil has learned to live this “Today” liturgically, with his daily rituals, from reporting on Gobbler’s Knob to changing the flat tire, catching the boy, saving the choking man, going to his piano lesson, talking Debbie into marrying Fred, going to the party, etc. In taking his part in this fixed pattern, Phil finds freedom and redemption.

      Dang. Now I have to write about the movie again sometime!

  6. Very well written and thought out. GD ( one vowel short of “ God”) has always been on my short “ Watch Every Five Years” list.

  7. It seems odd to me that people who don’t like and don’t appreciate movies, per se, still feel compelled to comment on them and the associated actors and industry. I don’t appreciate poetry or opera (except the instrumental music) but consider that a failing in me, not in poetry or opera. So I would never consider my opinions about those things to be valuable. BUT movies I appreciate and enjoy so…

    Of course, GHD was a good and funny movie. Not more and not less. And Bill Murray’s character was essential to its success. He was also his wacky self in “What About Bob”. A great spoof about psychology and self help gurus.

    What makes Bill and the characters he plays attractive and entertaining to people are the same things that get him into trouble with the humorless stiffs who bring up incidents where Bill was being Bill. They need to get over it and themselves. But so it isn’t too traumatic for them, they should do it in baby steps.

  8. I was big fan od this movie. I watched it frequently. But one day I decided to watch it as much as possibile. All free time day and night (when I was sleeping). It was overdose. Since that time I’ve never look at it and I suppose I’m not able to. But maybe someday. After lost in translation someone said:” I wish watching that movie first time again”. Well I knows it’s imposible

  9. At the risk of being accused of ‘blaming the victim’, Ms. Davis ‘outfit in the AH video looks like she’s on her way to meet the 3rd Fleet on shore leave for pete’s sake. Somewhere along the like, Bill got the idea that behaving that way is OK. Men truly hold the reigns in Hollywood, but to say women don’t intentionally sacrifice their dignity to enable them is delusional. A story of a cad working in the movies is more interesting than a cad that is a plumber, fireman or account executive, to be sure. But I have to ask…is there a story here?

  10. Leland Roth
    FEBRUARY 11, 2023 AT 4:18 PM
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Perhaps it was your mentioning ‘Ned Ryerson’ who was a funi takeoff off of Ann Ryerson (also a Second City alumni) who was my brother’s Mn Edina h.s. prom date for his 11th grade @ Blake private h.s. in 1968 that got me to write on what I believe to be one of the GREATEST spiritual films ever made in Hollywood.
    The author here being a Catholic reviewer certainly has possible pitfalls since reincarnation hasn’t been taught as an utterly obvious fact of life in the Catholic Church since 553 A.D.🤣
    However about 34 years is what it has been estimated Phil spent reliving the same day with cognitive memory of his previous days in his ‘hell’ while everyone else seem to be only on the same day everyday.
    How those years were figured is based on the p.o.v. it takes 10k hours to master a skill. Apparently others did the math & came up with 34 years or so…
    Personally knowing reincarnation is a fact of life…most of us peons here in this🌏🌎🌍reality have been here & there millions of lifetimes, so whatever to the 34 years calculations🤪
    It doesn’t surprise me whatsoever that Bill Murray still isn’t a perfect person yet either🤣
    St. Paul spoke of being ‘…caught up to the 3rd heaven…” in 2:12 Corinthians, yet the Nag Hammadi Library has St. Paul going from the 3rd heaven to the 10th heaven escorted by Jesus in a 1900 year old buried now transliterated tract found in Egypt 1945!
    Perhaps the best inspiration this movie does for Soul is to make its lower bodies reconsider EVERY thing it does 24/7 as it meanders thru its here & now day perhaps listening the divine melodies Jesus actually called the ‘word of G💖D’🎶
    ‘Be Here Now’ by Ram Das way back in the early ’70’s suggested these above p.o.v.s for starters…

  11. This is why I trust modern liberalism less than I trust Honest Larry the used car salesmen. Though no fan of Al Franken, he was simply living the post-war liberal dream of ‘go ahead, just do it.’ Same with Murray, and many from that era. I remember that era well. Everyone was invited to indulge. Put those puritan ways behind us. No rules, just right. Feels good, then it is good. Girls reach out and grab’em, guys do the same. All that matters is sex, drugs, and partying like it’s 1999.

    That liberalism changed the rules and decided to retroactively go after people foolish enough to have indulged in the great liberal promises of the 60s, 70s and 80s suggests it’s not to be trusted now. After all, the Left has made it clear that it will happily and retroactively punish you for merely doing what you were told was fine, if not preferred, starting the day before yesterday. And if it pulls that now, I doubt it will feel awkward doing the same the day after tomorrow.

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