Today’s Prayer Focus

Groundhog Day

MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for some thematic elements.

Reviewed by: H. Beau Baez, III

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Teens Adults
Genre: Romance Comedy
Length: 1 hr. 51 min.
Year of Release: 1993
USA Release: February 12, 1993
USA Release:
Copyrightedclick photos to ENLARGE

“Groundhog Day” is a light-hearted comedy that is enjoyable and well done. I have seen it several times and have liked it each time.

“Groundhog Day” stars Bill Muray as an egotistical TV weather man who has been sent to Punxsutawney, PA to cover Groundhog Day (February 2nd). He is rude to everyone he meets and has no human charity whatsoever.

After the “first Groundhog Day” Bill Murray goes to sleep and awakens to find that it is the same Groundhog Day all over again. In fact, each time that he goes to sleep, he awakens in Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day, all over again!

At first, Murray takes advantage of his situation by furthering his self-centered ways. He uses his knowledge of the day’s events (he never forgets what has happened on the previous Groundhog Days) to learn where to steal money, how to use people, and generally how to have a good time. However, as the ceaslessly replicating Groundhog Days continue, he realizes the emptiness of his self-centered ways and decides that life is futile—he tries to kill himself, only to find that he always wakes up again, on the same Groundhog Day!

Recognizing the Biblical precept that a self-centered life is meaningless, he learns to start helping and appreciating others. He helps those in trouble and learns to use his time to develop useful skills (he learns how to play the piano). Throughout the movie he is attracted to the character played by Andie MacDowell, but can never seem to win her affection (even though he has dozens of dates with her, improving the dates each Groundhog Day). Eventually, once Bill Murray becomes a “real person” (a person with concern for others) his dreamgirl falls for the new, reformed Bill Murray.

The movie does not have any explicit sexual scenes, but it does include sexual innuendo in that it shows Bill Murray seducing (or trying to seduce) women prior to his personal reformation. As to profanity, some. As to violence, Bill Murray “kills” himself several times, but any graphic details are omitted (after all, this is a romantic comedy).

“Groundhog Day” is a nice choice for couples to watch as a Friday “date-night” video, though I have heard that men tend to enjoy it more that women.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral—“Groundhog Day” is a movie which I thoroughly enjoyed in the years before I had become a more discerning believer, and it is strange now to view it from a Biblical perspective. I watched it recently for the first time in years, and found myself still enjoying it on one level (its sheer humor and entertainment value) while becoming disquieted in my spirit on a deeper level.

It is certainly an entertaining film with superb comedic and even dramatic acting from Bill Murray. It is well-written, clever, moving and has a somewhat redeeming message… but with concerns. Many of these concerns stem from the crudeness and vulgarity of the main character for the majority of the film. He is crass, lewd, and manipulative. Of course, this sets us up for the plot of the film, but we must watch over one hour of the movie before this changes. Be aware that there are some language issues with irreverent uses of God’s name and a couple uses of “hell” out of its proper context, drunkenness, theft, defiance of the law, a few scenes of heavy kissing, implied fornication, and two instances with somewhat revealing attire on women.

Disturbingly, the main character resorts to suicide and several attempts are portrayed (without being too graphic). I absolutely can’t recommend this film for children, due to the moral concerns, of course, but also due to the confusing nature of Phil’s life which has no consequences, especially after taking his own life. Young children would not be able to grasp this. These issues may seem relatively mild when compared to the typical romantic comedy of today, but I believe that of more concern than these is the whole idea of becoming good under one’s own power.

In this movie’s time warp premise, the character Phil Connors undergoes a transformation from an unfeeling, self-centered man to a man of good moral character. However, although we rejoice in this changed life, we must note that he did not change through the power of Christ. This raises some issues of spiritual concern. During parts of the film, Phil attributes his odd situation to the possibility that he is “a god” (although he does not think he is THE God) and even goes so far as to surmise that perhaps the real God uses “tricks” to appear omniscient.

Of course, this is the old, self-centered Phil’s point of view, and is somewhat redeemed as Phil changes. It comes to a crucial turning point when he silently acknowledges God during a particularly stirring scene in which he learns that he does not hold power over life and death. This is a well-written scene and my favorite part of the entire film. It is good to see Phil acknowledge this and change.

But we are left wondering… did he change under his own power? Can one ever become “good enough” if one simply has innumerable years in which to work and try? There are theological issues in this whole scenario which may lead to confusion for an unsaved person or an immature believer.

In the DVD commentary, the director mentions that people of many varying faiths wrote to him and all claimed that this movie personified their particular religious philosophy, including Christians. Does this movie have a Christian viewpoint? I think that, at one time, I would have said that indeed it did, because we see a character go from egotistical and self-centered to humble and giving. But now I must say that the philosophy in the film is not Christian. Believers should consider this matter before viewing and should view with caution and awareness of this false philosophy.

Of course, one can look at the plot of this movie as light-hearted and silly fun, obviously a fantasy and for entertainment only… but what questions are we left with concerning the human condition? Can we redeem ourselves if given enough time? Is finding human love the ultimate goal of life? Is it possible to have a “perfect day” in which no mistakes are made? Would God orchestrate an event such as a time warp in order to get someone to see and reject their selfish ways?

As believers, we can answer these questions through Scripture and these answers will not line up with the philosophy presented in this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Shawna, age 36 (USA)