HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY
“What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.” Bill Murray as Phil Connors in Groundhog Day.
“I find my inner peace, my quiet self at the movies alone. I stretch out and I smile to myself in the dark. The first few times, I was scared I would look like a loser, at the movies by myself. But now, I’m like, ‘Yea, I’m doing this,’ complete with popcorn and snacks. It’s my therapy. It works.” –my friend Rhonda, on the joys of going to the movies alone, which she does several times a week.
I am crushed. I sat down to hopefully start a marathon of watching Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day, and I could find it exactly nowhere on cable TV. So, like a modern, self-respecting American woman, I looked it up online. Surely a cable station—TBS, Comedy Central, etc.– was playing it nonstop all day today, Saturday, February 2nd, 2019, but, no. Before I panicked, I checked Netflix and Amazon Prime—I subscribe to both; surely one of them would offer it in their lineup for free streaming.
Herein lies the quandary: I have seen it at least ten times. Do I invest $3.99 to see it yet again?
This year marks the 26th anniversary of one of my all-time favorite movies, in honor of one of my all-time favorite (obscure) holidays. In 2006, it was added to the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” I totally agree.
Groundhog day is observed by both the United States and Canada, with its origins in Pennsylvania among the Pennsylvania Dutch. The earliest records of this were a simple mention made in a diary of a local resident dated February 2nd, 1840. In 1886, a local Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania newspaper reported the observance of this date, whereby “the beast has not yet seen its shadow.” The following year, it was made an official celebration.
Prior to the movie release, the crowds in Punxsutawney numbered around 2,000 for this celebration. After the movie release in 1993, however, the crowds rose to about 10,000. The population of Punxsutawney is around 6,000 people.
Most traditions, no matter how illogical and non-sensical they may seem typically have roots in deeper traditions, and Groundhog Day is no exception. The observation, according to online sources, appears to be an enhanced version of the weather lore that the badger is the predicting animal. February 2nd is the Christian observance of Candlemas Day, and legend has it that clear weather on that day forebodes a prolonged winter. The groundhog—also known as the woodchuck—became the preferred weather prognosticator.
Typically, the groundhog sees his shadow, and there are six more weeks of winter predicted. Official reports indicate he didn’t see it this year, so we will have an earlier spring. Statistically, he is right about 40% of the time.
I love a good movie. I love to watch good movies repeatedly. I have a fantasy of being trapped in a hotel room, all by myself, with nothing else to do but watch movies. It has yet to come true, but I keep hoping. When I am at home, I don’t spend a lot of time watching movies, I always feel I should be doing something more productive. However, while I was at home alone this weekend, I got back on Netflix and did a little more binge-watching…
Groundhog Day is certainly one of my favorite movies. I love the humor, but deeper than that, I love that Phil Connors, the main character, after failing to escape the time loop he is stuck in that forces him to re-live Groundhog Day multiple times, realizes he can make this work for him, and for those around him. He first tries to work it to his advantage by over-indulging in food, drink and merriment, but always wakes up to the same day all over again. He even tries suicide to escape, but even that sends him back to the same day all over again. So, he makes it work for good, not evil. He gets multiple chances to fix his mistakes, and turn them into acts of kindness and generosity.
If we could all be so lucky to have that opportunity with our own mistakes.
Another one of my favorites is Pay It Forward. If you haven’t seen it, give it a chance to show you how powerful one person’s actions can be, and the ripple effect they can have. Just be sure to have your tissues ready.
Two of our mom’s favorite movies were Fletch with Chevy Chase, an 80’s comedy, and Dirty Dancing. Quite a combination. She also liked Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, and Mannequin with Andrew McCarthy. Another interesting combination. I don’t recall our dad watching movies, but he did have a few television series he liked, especially Chuck Norris in Walker, Texas Ranger.
I polled Gail and Suzanne regarding their favorite movies. Suzanne, hands down, and without hesitation, responded: “My all-time favorite is ‘The Birds’ by Alfred Hitchcock.” Hmm.. I found this interesting, so I asked why.
“I guess because I enjoy watching people get their eyes pecked out.” I found this quite disturbing, but consider the source. I reported this to Gail, and she, too, likes The Birds. I simply had to laugh. You don’t know my sisters as well as I do, so please take all this with a grain of salt. They are harmless, as evidenced by their other favorites:
Suzanne: “I also really like ‘Terms of Endearment’ and ‘Sixteen Candles.’”
Gail: “One of my favorites is also ‘Catch and Release,’ with Jennifer Garner and Timothy Olyphant. You know, him. HIMmmmmmm… She also likes Top Gun for the male actor as well. You know, him. HIMmmmmmm
The American movie industry has been a staple of our entertainment economy. During the Great Depression, the movie industry suffered, just as nearly every other industry did. However, Americans spent their hard-earned fifteen cents to escape the reality of their excruciating poverty for just an hour or two, with 60-70 million Americans seeing a movie in the theater every week. Even during these hard times, it was worth it to that many people.
“The content of the motion picture still was designed for escape, the majority reflecting the tastes of tired or jaded adults seeking a never-never land of luxury and melodrama, sex and sentiment. –Dixton Wector, historian.
We have a low-key evening planned for the Super Bowl tonight. While my husband and son will be watching the game, I am planning on delving into the movie minds of my sisters, and watch The Birds. I have never seen it, and if they like it, perhaps I might, too. It will be a new experience.
I didn’t get to watch Groundhog Day yesterday. Time got away, and while I wasn’t opposed to paying $3.99 to see it online for the sake of the occasion, I didn’t get around to it. I will have to shell out $3.99 for The Birds, but for this glimpse inside my sisters’ movie minds, it will be worth it.
I rarely go to the theater to see movies. Suzanne and I have seen a few together since she moved to my small city, but we should see more.
If you feel the desire, take yourself out for a movie date, just like Rhonda does several times a week. It would likely be time well spent.
Or, whatever you enjoy doing, take the time. Unlike the main character in Groundhog Day, we don’t get the chance to go back and re-do yesterday. We don’t get time back after it is gone. So make it count.