Tuesday, February 02, 2010

How long, Punxsutawney Phil?


(If I get this post up while it is still Groundhog Day, it counts.)

How long does Bill Murray's character spend reliving Feb. 2 in the movie Groundhog Day?

This guy comes up with 8.7 years. This guy says 4 years. Harold Ramis says 10 years -- except when he says 30-40 years.

I like the writer's (supposed) original concept, that it could have gone on for more like 10,000 years.

Personally I am going to say: 150 years.

I think the criminally undercounted portion of Phil's stay in Punxsutawney is the first stage, which he spends living out his every hedonistic fantasy. Phil is a phenomenally shallow person, and he is what, 40 years old? If existential boredom and despair about his life's meaninglessness haven't set in yet, they could take a very long time indeed to appear. I would think a guy like that would spend quite a bit of time in the eat-every-cake-and-dessert-in-the-diner phase.

Also indicative of a very long timeline is not just learning French or learning to play the piano, but a.) the sequence where he tries to save the old man and b.) the fact that he learns to catch the boy falling out of the tree. To me those things are not just a matter of practicing skills -- they're matters of complete awareness of the town of Punxsutawney. Hard to quantify, but probably a very long time.

Last but not least: "I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned." I am guessing that some of these things did not happen on consecutive days. And even though we know that at certain points Phil tries to kill himself, the clear implication to this line is that at least some of these things were done to him -- which makes them even less likely and therefore probably spaced further apart.

1 comment:

Jb said...

From the Dept. of Tragic Film Reviews:

"'Groundhog' will never be designated a national film treasure by the Library of Congress.'

~Desson Howe, Washington Post, Feb. 12, 1993.

Whoops.