Groundhog Day is February 2nd in the US, and it’s a truly bizarre national holiday. The premise: a large rodent might/might not see its shadow, predicting when spring will or won’t come. How does one celebrate this, unless they live in Punxatawny, PA?
How long does it take to start thinking you are a god? To give up on unique ways to solve the day/kill yourself/become a better person? (Pay attention to the film and ask yourself how long it would take to master his many skills.)
Phil escapes the time loop only when certain conditions are met. We assume this, because it’s never stated why he finally moves on to the next day. [pullquote]However, the repeating day motif is not new to this movie, and in each instance, time repeats indefinitely until the protagonist finds a way out. [/pullquote]The movie in question isn’t even the first film or TV show to feature this theme.
That makes it really fun each year. We at RunPee get to pick a rewatch of something with a distinct “Groundhog Day theme” every year in Feb. There’s an interesting lineage here. The theme actually starts with Star Trek: The Next Generation!
Let’s take a look at who has used this Groundhog Day theme, in order by year.
Links added go to RunPee’s reviews. We hope to get them all reviewed eventually. One of these Groundhog Days we will! (Promise! Feb 2 does come ever year…) If we haven’t added some kind of commentary, we haven’t seen it. Feel free to instruct us in the comments below. 🙂
- Cause and Effect (TV ep, Star Trek, the Next Generation) 1992 — NOTE: Air date before Groundhog Day. Was this the first to do it? Here’s how it starts…right before the teaser ends we get this indelible image: Picard yelling for all hands to abandon the Enterprise. Then it explodes. And keeps on exploding. From there, the mystery never lets up on this superb storytelling. I don’t think any TV episode gave me chills like this before in my young life. It still works.
- Groundhog Day — Feature Film — 1993 : When I Iived that year in the UK, this first-run movie saved my sanity. For real. Long story.
- Been There, Done That (TV ep, Xena: Warrior Princess) 1997 : This show could do no wrong in my eyes during it’s 7-year run. It’s only natural that Xena’s version is funnier than EVERYTHING else on this list. Plus, we’ve got Romeo and Juliette being dorks, a laundry list of reasons why Xena didn’t bite Gabrielle (lol), a name drop of Hercules (and Sinbad), and an adorable cameo by Karl Urban as Cupid. A top ten Xena ep anyone can enjoy.
- Run, Lola, Run — Feature Film — 1998: Although the movie is a scant eighty minutes, you feel like you’ve been on a journey by the end of it. Tykwer uses music, sound effects, and editing, to make you feel both the pressure Lola is under, and all the ground she is covering. It’s very effective.
- Back and Back and Back to the Future (TV ep, Farscape) 1999: set in the mostly benighted season one of an otherwise stellar Sci-Fi show, Back and Back is notable for Crichton’s trying to change the timeline in small ways (breaking Zhan’s sacred mask on purpose, instead of letting time inevitably play out).
- Monday (TV ep, The X-Files) 1999: You don’t think there’s a mystery trope left examined in the X-Files 9 year run? Look again. Notable: a guest actor is at the center of the plot, with Mulder and Scully mostly in reaction mode…and it STILL works. A standout during a mostly experimental season.
- Life Serial (TV ep, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) 2001 : In Buffy’s sixth season, “real life” was the scary big bad. Shudders! This episode was a needed dash of fun. The “Trio” are nerdy doofuses with too much power and no real direction. I love everything in this season, and this is a highlight.
- Deja vu All Over Again (TV ep, Charmed) 2008
- Mystery Spot (TV ep, Supernatural) — 2008
- Source Code — Feature Film– 2011: A soldier wakes up in someone else’s body and discovers he’s part of an experimental government program to find the bomber of a commuter train. A mission he has only 8 minutes to complete.
- Edge of Tomorrow –Feature Film — (Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt film) 2014 : Exciting, well-acted, and with a gripping jeopardy premise, Cruise and Blunt take what could have been a two-hour slog of repeating action into something believably exciting in a fresh take on an alien takeover plot. Highly Recommended! Every time they ‘”level up” you want to cheer! Also: theme song Love Me Again deserves a spot on any movie lover’s playlist: lyrics and movie video here.
- Looper — Feature Film — 2012: In a future where time travel is a thing, not everyone has the best intentions. [ED NOTE: I just watched this one, and Looper is not a GHD movie. So I’ll make my virgin review on Looper soon — it’s a good movie — but I need to take this film off this particular list. There will be a Death Day 2 coming up, and someone mentioned Blood Surge as a thing that might be along these lines, so stay tuned for a replacement item! — As of Feb 1, 2019, the day before Groundhog Day!]
- Hell is Other People (The Vampire Diaries) — 2016
- Before I Fall — Feature Film — 2017: Another mystery that must be solved before time moves on. Well written, well acted, well directed. It surprised us.
- Happy Death Day — Feature Film — 2017: Imagine relieving your death, over and over? Want to try? Neither do we. (Awesome movie, though!) NEW article: All the clues to the killer in Happy Death Day (Spoilers!)
- Hot Mess Time Machine (TV ep, The Mindy Project) — 2017
- Naked — (Netflix show) — 2017 – YAY! A new one to check out!
- Dr. Strange — Feature Film — 2017: I don’t know if this should be included, so I’ll toss it up and let you decide. At the end of the film, Strange wears down his enemy using an infinite time loop of destruction. He could stop it at any point, so it’s not like the other plots. Does this count?
- Russian Doll – A new and exciting dark comedy Netflix series that’s somewhere in between Groundhog Day and Happy Death Day. (2019)
- Travelers has a great, unique take on this now too! |It streams on Netflix….
[pullquote position=”right”] At RunPee HQ we’ve been collecting movies and TV episodes with Groundhog Day themes, and make a point to choose at least one each year to rewatch on Groundhog Day.[/pullquote] I mean, hey: what else are you going to do to celebrate how vermin might predict the weather?
So, did we miss something? We’re always looking to add new shows to celebrate on this obscure, yet infinitely geeky holiday. I’m sure this fascinating well of plots hasn’t dried out just yet. The recent and finely wrought Edge of Tomorrow indicates there are still ideas to be mined. And we have a new Death Day 2 coming on Valentines’ Day in 2019!
Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)