I don’t think I’ve been awake this early, willingly or unwillingly, in more than five years. But I’m awake now, sitting in the IU Cinema and waiting to watch “Groundhog Day,” a Bill Murray film I’ll see more than 10 times by the end of the day.
There are 38 people in the theater, which seems very impressive for such an early weekday showing.
“We are always brainstorming inventive ways to bring all types of audiences to the IU Cinema, and the marathon screenings have been well received by both the Bloomington campus and the community, drumming up a lot of interest and word-of-mouth enthusiasm,” Brittany D. Friesner, associate director of the IU Cinema, said in an email interview.
One of my fellow audience members is also watching “Groundhog Day” for the first time. At least, she thinks she is.
“I have no idea, but I don’t think so. I think this is my first time,” Maddie, 6, says.
At first she said no, firmly, but was then told by her 8-year-old brother, Dean, that she had watched the movie on Netflix.
“Wait, have I?”
The lights dim, and the 6 a.m. showing of “Groundhog Day” begins.
“Groundhog Day” is a solid movie. A very solid movie. It’s funny and smart and has an actual, legitimately good plot that I can at least watch two times without losing my mind.
Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a cynical weatherman covering the groundhog festival in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with a new producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and his cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott). He watches as the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, declares in Groundhogese that he sees his shadow and there will be six more weeks of winter. Connors does his broadcast, tries to leave, gets snowed in by a blizzard and then wakes up in Punxsutawney the next day.
Except it’s not the next day. It’s Groundhog Day. Again.
And so Connors has to find a way to try to make tomorrow happen again — after, of course, robbing a money truck, going on a joyride, sleeping with some locals and learning background information on all the Punxsutawney citizens. He commits suicide countless times, still waking up at 6 a.m. on Groundhog Day. Eventually, he becomes a better person and time resumes.
All in all, a film I can get behind. Which is good, since I will be behind this film for the next 18 hours.
Every time Connors wakes up at 6 a.m. on Groundhog Day, the radio is playing “I Got You Babe,” by Sonny and Cher. IU Cinema is playing “I Got You Babe” between each movie showing. Nice.
I slept. I slept long and hard. I slept through 90 percent of that showing.
Is it possible to be too good at sleeping? I don’t think I can be in a dark space without crashing.
There were eight people in the second showing, so I don’t feel bad about taking up a spot for my nap.
“Groundhog Day” partial quotes that would make good band names:
That Blizzard Thing
Seer of Seers
Snowing in Space
Celebrity in an Emergency
Gobbler’s Knob (My personal favorite. If I had any shred of musical talent I would start a band called Gobbler’s Knob. As it is now, I can play almost all of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on the piano, and I don’t think I can book shows with that. Especially since the band name Gobbler’s Knob gives off a very alternative vibe that would clash with my slightly off-key classic Christmas jam.)
I’ve heard Connors’ annoying schoolmate, Ned Ryerson, say “heckfire” more times than I’ve ever wanted too. Heckfire isn’t a word anyone ever wants to hear on a regular basis, let alone from a character played by Steven Tobolowsky.
It’s time for me to exit the theater and rejoin the outside world, if only for a couple hours. Class is important. Especially when you’ve already missed a class the week before due to a bad cold and a poorly-timed NyQuil dosage.
I stop in the newsroom on my way back to IU Cinema from class, and my editor says a horrible thing. Practically unforgivable.
“What if you live this Groundhog Day over and over? Like you watch the movie eleven times a day every day?”
Ok, thank you for the encouragement. I’m trying to hype myself up for only five more screenings, and then this is dropped on me. Not to mention, the director of “Groundhog Day,” Harold Ramis, said that Connors experienced the same day for 10 years, according to IMDB.
That means for me, assuming I could work out how to make time pass again after those 10 years, I would watch “Groundhog Day” over 40,000 times.
It’s raining on my walk back to IU Cinema. I’m one for superstition, so I interpret this as a sign. I don’t know if it’s a bad one, or the idea of a clean start. A new perspective on “Groundhog Day,” my worries being washed away.
I arrive in the middle of the sixth showing, just in time to see the montage of Connors committing suicide. This clarifies the sign, for sure.
The population of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is 6,782, according to their welcome sign. Connors estimates that 1,000 people are at Gobbler’s Knob for the festival. I’ll add in an extra 100 for people working in the town that we see on screen. Roughly 1,100 people in the movie. Two of these people are extras, who pass Connors when he is talking to Ryerson on the street. These two characters are my favorites now, solely for the fact I’ve never heard their voices.
I’ve named these two characters Brian and Miranda. Brian is in a yellow hat, with a puffy white, blue and black jacket. Kelly is in a toboggan and a blue jacket, and she has blonde hair with bangs. They go to the local high school, and basically live out an episode of “Saved by the Bell” every time Groundhog Day is repeated.
I spend the next hour thinking about “Saved by the Bell” with the addition of Miranda and Brian. This quickly leads to just thinking about “Saved by the Bell.” I make a note to find Mario Lopez on Twitter during the next break.
The audience for this showing is awesome, laughing very loudly and clapping along to all of the major scenes. One lady beside me claps every time Punxsutawney Phil is on the screen. Her enthusiasm brings some life back into me.
The life wore off. I fall asleep again. Is this extremely mild narcolepsy, or just a side effect of sitting for an extended period of time?
Mario Lopez’s Twitter is very disappointing.
Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I don’t expect different results from my movie watching.
I don’t expect anything anymore.
It’s probably best that I have to tag out for a while now and run to a meeting.
6:49 p.m. [Jack tags in]
I've seen "Groundhog Day" plenty of times over the years, but it's not until this showing that I realize its true genius: managing to seem funny and lighthearted even though its premise is legitimately terrifying.
Phil Connors endures countless disappointments, countless deaths and countless hours flipping cards into hats just in an effort to shake his shadow. He is Sisyphus, he is Gregor Samsa, he is Leo in "The Revenant," he is all of us.
Also: Rita has horrible news judgment; Ned looks more like a groundhog than the actual groundhog; I relate to the scene where Connors watches "Jeopardy!" and nonchalantly answers; and who the heck carries $339.88 in cash?
8:26 p.m. [Anna tags back in]
One meeting and a chocolate brownie Clif bar later, I’m back at IU cinema. I’m about a half-hour late to the ninth showing of “Groundhog Day,” and I’m back until the bitter end. Until my Groundhog Day is over.
When Connors is out at the bar with two Punxsutawney local men, one gives him the whole spiel about the glass being half-empty or half-full, using his own half-full beer as a reference. “I peg you as a glass half-empty kind of guy,” says Gus to Connors.
The glass is both half-full and half-empty. Why is this always such a big debate in movies and in real life? Why does the way you see a glass tell everyone if you are a ray of sunshine or damn Eeyore? Both people are right. It’s both. Both are right.
Half-full or half-empty, I would drain that beer right now.
I stand in the very back of the theater for the majority of this one, my second-to-last showing. I’m suddenly terrified I will get a blood clot. Does blood clot this quickly? If I got a blood clot that would be very inconvenient. I have a Finite test Thursday. I have to go to work. I don’t have time for a blood clot.
Apparently, I only have time to watch the same move ten freaking times in a row.
I’m passed out again.
This is it. The final showing.
Phil Connors and Punxsutawney Phil are two halves of a whole. Yin and yang.
As Phil Connors relives the day, over and over, Punxsutawney Phil is reliving the same day. As Connors slides into depression while reliving one of his least favorite job assignments on an endless loop, Phil the groundhog is living what is probably one of the best days of his short life. Sure, it would be slightly confusing with the noise and camera flashes. But he is getting some attention, which I’m guessing his average day-to-day life is severely lacking.
And who even controls this groundhog? A group of old, white men. They are the ones who translates what Phil says, and thus control the weather for the next six weeks. They are on stage, parading around a giant rodent as their puppet, all the while conspiring behind the scenes. They are the ones in stage in top hats and plaid vests. And they are probably the ones who benefit the most from the increased tourism to the town.
It’s the patriarchy. It’s the patriarchy bringing down a (at the time the movie was released) 106-year-old tradition.
This is it. This will be my final lesson from “Groundhog Day.” I thought I would learn a lesson from watching the same movie over and over, but I don’t know if I learned anything. I might have even un-learned some things.
I will have PTSD if I ever see Bill Murray again.