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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Groundhog Day can be found here.
Arrogant Pittsburgh TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is assigned the job of covering Punxsutawney Phil's emergence to see his shadow on Groundhog Day (February 2nd), a duty he's been reluctantly covering for the past four years. He makes it through the day in his usual egoistic manner, incurring the disdain of both his pretty new producer (Andie MacDowell) and his long-suffering photographer Larry (Chris Elliott). When he awakens the next morning, however, he finds that it's Groundhog Day again, as is every day thereafter, forcing Phil to relive the day over and over again. Unable to leave Punxsutawney due to a severe blizzard, Phil struggles to find a way to make this quirk in the fabric of time work to his advantage. The one bright spot is that this gives him a new chance everyday to get to know Rita to whom he is attracted.
Groundhog Day is based on an original script by screenwriter Danny Rubin and further adapted for the screen by Rubin and director Harold Ramis. The time-loop idea was inspired by the novel Replay (1987) by Ken Grimwood.
There is no definite reason as to why the time loop started. It was originally planned for the time loop to have started with an ex-girlfriend of Phil's putting a voodoo curse on him in order to get revenge, which was later considered a bad idea. It was deliberately decided by director Harold Ramis to let the reason as to what triggered the time loop remain a mystery and is completely left to the viewer's interpretation.
No. The man was simply a homeless man that Phil decided to help. Phil just affectionately called him "Dad" and "Pop". Notice that Phil seems to do this with older people anyway, referring to his B&B hostess as "Mom" on at least one occasion.
He did try staying up all night. After Phil gets Rita to believe that he has been reliving the same day over and over again, she decides to stay with him just to see what happens. First she thinks it will end at midnight, but finds out that it starts over at 6:00 AM every morning. She falls asleep but Phil stays awake all night just whispering to her as she sleeps. The alarm then goes off and he looks where Rita was just sleeping to see that she has disappeared. Although we DO see him getting thrown in jail, we don't know what time it is. Then we see him waking up the next morning, happy that he is no longer in jail.
Just because we don't see Phil try certain things in order to prevent the recurrence of Groundhog Day doesn't mean
he didn't try it. Some things occur off camera. Considering he mentions dying in every way there is possible, but we only see him kill himself a few different ways. Also, he gets to know everything about every person in the town. He is clearly not seen doing this throughout the film. So we are led to believe he took at least one day to get to know every single person.
Rita bids $339.88 for Phil at the bachelor auction and wins a date with him for the evening. The next morning, Phil awakens at 6:00am as usual to the song 'I Got You, Babe', but notices that Rita is in bed with him. 'Something is different,' he says to himself. Checking outside the window, he sees that the usual Groundhog Day crowds are gone. 'Today is tomorrow,' Phil says joyfully and kisses Rita. Later that morning, Phil and Rita stand on the front porch together. 'Let's live here,' Phil suggests to Rita and kisses her again. 'We'll rent to start.' In the final scene, they walk down the front path, climb over the garden gate, and head down the snowy street together.
It is because he has now learned from his experiences and used the opportunity to make himself better. Thus in a way, he has "learned his lesson" which might have been the objective of the time loop.
According to director Harold Ramis, it goes on for about 10 years (3,600+ iterations). There are a minimum of 34 separate Groundhog Days actually depicted onscreen in the film. Ramis later corrected his earlier estimate stating that "I think the 10-year estimate is too short. It takes at least 10 years to get good at anything and, allotting for the down time and misguided years he spent, it had to be more like 30 or 40 years". A number of factors taken into consideration include the general belief that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything (In Phil's case, regarding learning French, piano, ice sculpturing, etc.), days on screen (38), days mentioned (414) and gesture days (trying to save the old man, falling kid, etc). It could be argued that Phil learned his talents concurrently rather than consecutively, but a claim in either direction would be mere conjecture.
For the same reason nobody else ages. The day starts over exactly the same as it did the first time. If Phil aged throughout his stay in Groundhog Day, he would likely retain something from the day before (e.g. if he was burned one day, the he'd have a telltale burn or scar the next day. Phil mentions to Rita, while they're in the cafe, that he no longer has to worry about his health, as he stuffs himself full of junk food and smokes a cigarette. He tells her that he doesn't even need to floss anymore.
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