Thursday, February 02, 2006

How many Groundhog days in Groundhog Day (the movie)?

Today of all days, I would like to point out that I am an official member of the Punxsutawney Phil fan club. Later, I will try to watch and blog the live webcast of the actual Groundhog event from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. For more intense action see the Groundhog202 website for a Shining style sendup of what 364 days of isolation can do to a groundhog just waiting to see its shadow.

One of my favorite things to do on Groundhog's day, besides the obvious checking my shadow stuff, is to watch the movie. There are spoilers below, so stop reading and go watch the movie if you haven't. I would be surprised if you haven't seen the movie, it is eternally on cable. In answer to the title question, there are 34 days that are shown in the movie but years and years of days we don't see that are hinted at in the days we do see.

In the movie Groundhog Day, Weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray), finds himself waking up to the same day over and over again. At first he takes advantage of the situation, almost hedonistically. Then as the days wear on and he fails to trick his producer, Rita (played by Andie McDowell) into falling in love with him, he despairs and eventually kills himself many times, ineffectively waking up each day to the same Groundhog day. Finally he begins to see that he can help others during these days, until the last day, when he gets it right, Rita comes to him, and he gets to go on to a new day at the end.

One fun drinking game to play during the movie is to drink every time you hear the Pennsylvania Polka (this is an invention of my very own). Have plenty of beer handy, as it happens every time we return to Gobbler's Knob to see the groundhog, which is often. You should also clap at the right spots in the song (Strike up the music. The band has begun. Clap clap clap clap. The Pennsylvania Polka!). Plenty of other trivia related to the Groundhog Day movie can be found at Funtrivia.

Besides loving the movie for its message of personal growth (don't get me started), I have always been obsessed with the number of days that poor Phil Connors is forced to live through. I have watched the movie over and over again, and I have also built some of my work upon Erik Ellis's sequence of events from Groundhog Day, which is gone from the web, but survives on the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive. Where have you and your movie accounting skills gone, Eric?

May starting point below is the sequence of events from Erik Ellis (extremely detailed spoilers below, go watch the movie if you haven't, before you read this). Please tell me if you learn something by the end, just like Phil. What is your favorite day or part of the movie?

Groundhog Day (with help from Erik Ellis)

Feb 1

  • Phil delivers 5 o'clock weather report and heads for Punxsutawney with Larry and Rita.

Feb 2

  • Day 1

    Groundhog Day! Tries to get back to Pittsburgh, but gets snowed out. "OK Campers rise and shine, but don't forget your booties cuz' its cold out there."

  • Day 2

    Gets up and sees no snow on the ground. Weirds out more and more, but holds it together. Makes no real changes from Day 1. Before going to bed, he breaks a pencil to check on the next morning.

  • Day 3

    The pencil is whole! Phil is totally freaked out now and skips doing the groundhog report. Instead, he asks Rita to meet him at the Tip-Top Cafe to ask for her help. Goes to a neurologist and psychiatrist and ends up bowling with the morons. Realizes that he can do whatever he wants without consequence, goes on a rampage ("I'm not gonna live by their rules any more!"), plays chicken with a train, and gets tossed in jail.

  • Day 4

    Wakes up at the Bed & Breakfast and realizes he got away with going nuts the previous night. Starts to take advantage of his situation. Slugs Ned Ryerson, misses the puddle finally, pigs out at Tip-Top Cafe, and gets info from Nancy Taylor to hit on her the next day.

  • Day 5

    Picks up Nancy, but keeps calling her Rita.

  • Day 6

    Has scheme (that he has apparently memorized by watching it a few times) to get all the money he needs (steals it from armored truck). Goes to movie dressed as a bandito in a Mercedes with girl in French maid outfit. Says that he has seen the movie over a hundreds times (this is a good indication that we don't get to see every day in the movie, there are lots more)

  • Day 7

    Tries to find out about Rita at Tip-Top Cafe. He prompts Rita to list the qualities of her perfect man. Good line from Phil- "This is a man we're talking about, right?" Buys Rita a drink at the bar that evening.

  • Day 8

    Buys Rita a drink. Gets the drink right but the toast wrong.

  • Day 9

    Buys Rita a drink. Gets the drink right and the toast right (To world peace). No white chocolate. They have dinner together and he laughs in her face ("What a waste of time") when she tells him she majored in 19th century French poetry.

  • Day 10

    Same as previous day, but this time he recites a French poem (I wonder if there are days missing where he learns French poetry) when she tells about her major. They make a snowman and dance in park. She comes up to his room and she slaps his face.

  • Day 11

    Same as previous day, but before going to his room they build a snowman (while he goes giddy over the notion of fatherhood, he is starting to sound a little frantic to work the situation). She slaps his face at the end of night in front of the blue building.

  • Days 12

    She slaps his face in Phil's room.

  • Days 13

    She slaps his face under the light.

  • Days 14

    She slaps his face at the door of the building.

  • Days 15

    She slaps his face in front of the blue building again.

  • Days 16

    She slaps his face at the door of the building again.

  • Days 17

    She slaps his face under the light again.

  • Day 18

    She slaps his face again at the door of the Pennsylvania Hotel, but Phil holds the door for her. He has a sad walk home past the ice sculptures and depression sets in.

  • Day 19

    Major depression. Looks real sad at Gobbler's Knob.

  • Day 20

    Even worse. Swills whiskey and watches Jeopardy. Freaks out the old people by answering before

  • Day 21

    Even worse. "they used to pull the hog out and they used to eat it. You're hypocrites all of you."

  • Day 22

    Wakes and smashes clock/radio alarm by pushing it on the floor.

  • Day 23

    Smashes clock/radio alarm with his fist repeatedly.

  • Day 24

    Smashes clock/radio alarm by throwing it to the floor with all his might. Figures that if gets rid of the groundhog he can stop the days from repeating. Kidnaps the woodchuck, and drives off a cliff.

  • Day 25

    Electrocutes himself with a toaster in the bathtub.

  • Day 26

    Steps in front of a truck.

  • Day 27

    Total despair. Jumps off a building. Rita and Larry identify the body.

  • Day 28

    In the cafe with Rita. Says he is a god. (mentions that he has been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned - more evidence of days he lives through that we haven't seen) Proves he knows everything about everyone and that he knows what's going to happen before it happens. He knows all about Rita, which he says almost worshipfully. She spends rest of day with him as an "objective witness." More evidence of extra days with his expertise at tossing playing cards in the hat "6 months - four to five hours a day, and you'll be an expert".

  • Day 29

    The beginning of the end! Comes out of depression. Gives a wad of bills to beggar. Brings coffee and danishes for Larry and Rita at groundhog taping. Starts piano lessons.

  • Day 30

    Greets the dweeb he runs into every morning outside his room with happy Italian words of hope and promise. More piano lessons while popping his bubble gum. Takes up ice sculpting.

  • Day 31

    More piano lessons. Jokes, "My father was a piano mover"

  • Day 32

    Instead of slugging Ned Ryerson, he embraces him and convinces him that he's gay. Takes the old beggar to the hospital to die.

  • Day 33

    Takes the beggar out for breakfast and gives him mouth-to-mouth in an attempt to save his life in the evening. Beggar dies. Apparently, he learns here to accept that there are some things he just can't change.

  • Day 34

    The day he got it right! Makes a great speech at the groundhog taping. Catches a boy falling out of tree. Fixes a flat tire for three elderly ladies. Administers the Hiemlich to Buster, the Groundhog Day official, in restaurant. Plays piano at groundhog party. Rita buys him at the bachelor auction/fundraiser. Everyone comes up and thanks him for what he did for them during the day.

Feb 3

  • Rita is still there. Finally Phil starts a new day.


whirdly said...

I just don't get it. I'll admit the movie is good, but why are some people soooo obsessed over it?

whirdly said...

Thanks. So now I have The Pennsylvania Polka going through my head!

Richard Koehler said...

Perhaps a look at this site ( will explain to you why the movie Groundhog Day really has a deeper meaning and does an entertaining job of explaining it.

Anonymous said...

do do do do, do do do do

Bex said...

My favorite parts of the movie are when Phil (Bill Murray) give Buster Green (Brian Doyle-Murray...Bill's real-life brother) the heimlich in the restaurant & meets him again, at the dance, at the end of the movie. I always love those little trivia things in movies.

Anonymous said...

thank for this site
UI always wanted to count the days and one day rented the dvd and counted 3/4 of the way through I wife suggested there might be a trivia site

I counted 36 days but it is probably 34

Leah said...

Pick out your partner and join in the fun...

That's my day taken up with humming the tune now!

Thanks for this - brilliant!

Anonymous said...

He knew all the history of the towns people.
He learned to be a great piano player.
I think Harold Ramis the director of the film once said it would have to be something like 10,000 days to learn all he did.

Malinborn said...

there may be 30ish days Shown.... but please... to do all that he does.. and then Master the Piano... master ice sculpting, and so on and so on... they may depict 30ish days but he lived hundreds if not thousands of days there

Shawn said...

450,320 days is the count. It is eternity and the only explanation of such a moving portrayal of learning the piano and ice sculpting and learning how to become the person he wants to be. I am a man but that movie makes me cry because I want to be that significant. Call me crazy but couldn't we all stand to be a little better?

Anonymous said...

great movie, huge fan. It seems you left out some days. Towards the middle of the film we see that phil is trying to convince rita that he is god. He also admits that he has tired to kill himself in many other ways other than what we have seen in the movie. I just really want to figure out how many times he has lived the day of February second !

Richard said...

Hey commentors, read the post please. This is intended to be a list of the days we see in the movie. I repeatedly point out when Phil mentions things that implay many, many more days than depicted. I myself believe it is years and years of days, but only 34 shown in the movie.

Richard said...

A low ball estimate of the days not depicted:

Louis said...

It is actually FAR more than this many days. They asked Harold Ramis about this and he was talking about YEARS worth of dyas. Think about it...he memorizes things perfectly. You don't do that after experiencing it only one time. Like when he jumps in front of the van and knows exactly when the car will honk his horn. So he must have tried to kill himself in that method at least once before. Or the fact that he knows EXACTLY when the kid will fall from the tree, or the bag of money will be left unguarded, or the tray of food will drop.

Oh...and someone doesn't get to be that skilled at piano after just a few lessons. Same with ice scultping.

freestone said...

wonderful movie.

the Bid at the end of the movie!
"6 more weeks of winter" if shadow of groundhog is seen.
6 x7 = 42 3 + 39 = 42

either 42 years OR 365 x 42 = over 15,000 years.
3 and 39 are Jesus's days seen on earth and the 3 days in hell preaching.
the 88? OK, occult researchers, go at it!


tiney56 said...

since this is a movie full of symbolism, i want to submit that he went through 339.88 days before he got tomorrow. he submitted to true love and servitude.