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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.
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.
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. Harold 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".
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.
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 next day he'd have the same burn or scar from the previous day, and so in fact everyone ELSE would be repeating the day and just have no memory of it.). Phil mentions to Rita, 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. Director Harold Ramis has actually revised his estimate of ten years claiming the time loop lasted closer to '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 sculpture etc, approx 11,931 days or 32.6 years), 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.
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.
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.
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