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"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." ~ 1 Peter 3:15-16

Review: Groundhog Day (Movie)

Groundhog Day is not a christian film, nor is there any explicit reference to the christian faith. However, it is a classic variant of the time travel genre that explores the meaning and purpose of life, allowing the viewers to reflect on life meaning and purpose, and about the consequences of the choices made.

In the film, weatherman Phil Connors went to a small town in Pennsylvania with his crew to feature the annual celebration of groundhog day on 2 Feb for the third time in a row. Being an egoistic guy, Phil didn’t really like the assignment nor the town. After finishing his job, he found himself stuck in the town due to a surprise blizzard. So he stayed overnight and woke up at 6am exactly in the morning, only to find 2 Feb repeating and looping itself, even if he died. As in all time travel movies, Phil retained the memory of “yesterdays” while the other characters did not. There is no explanation given in the film as to why 2 Feb will keep repeating itself. There is also no indication as to why groundhog day is that special day. However, the story progressed well without the need to resolve the logic behind it, all thanks to the good plot and acting of Phil.

Without going into the details, we can see that Phil initially went through a phase of confusion, disbelief and anxiety, as he found himself encountering the same irritating persons and boring events every same day. He started to lose self-confidence and became less sarcastic in the way he talked, when he had accepted his fate of no escape. During a conversation with two drunkards, he henceforth gained enlightenment to do whatever he desired without the fear of consequence (since the day will restart itself), including womanising (slight sexual reference), reckless driving and robbery for which he was thrown behind bars. But soon he started to experience an emptiness in his soul after going through the same backward life over and over again. All these times, we could sense the difference in his attitude towards life in his reporting content of the groundhog day (yes, he still did his job every same day).

Since it is a part romance genre, Phil was attracted to his producer Rita in the middle of the movie. Phil made use of the repeating day to build his knowledge on Rita’s likings and preferences with a mental checklist. Phil schemed to seduce Rita using these information, but without success at each attempt. Phil was so disappointed that he started to take more drastic actions, including snatching the groundhog by force and committed suicide with it. But even subsequent suicidal attempts, such as tossing an electrical toaster into the filled bathtub, could not resolve the time loop.

Because it is also a part comedy, the ending turned out alright. Phil became more positive and started to use the time loop for the purpose of his skill development, including piano lessons, ice sculpturing lessons, french lessons, visiting the library and helping the townsfolk who were in need each same day. Phil ultimately realised the meaning of life and the source of satisfaction and joy. Phil understood that the biggest necessary change, was to change himself. And as in all good ending, Rita became attracted to the changed Phil, and Phil perfected 2 Feb and the day continued to tomorrow.

While Phil initially perceived the time loop as a trap of which he was the victim, I think the alternative is to perceive the time loop as a gracious chance to redo everything in the past, in order to achieve the ideal outcome on hindsight. In the real world, we do not have such privilege of undoing our pasts, so we have to be very mindful of the choices we made. It calls us to reflect deeper about the values behind the choices we made and their consequences, whether they have eternal values.

Overall, it is a very comedian time travel concept that will appeal to both fans of time traveling and comedy, but with profound implications on the reflection of our lives.

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