As we look forward to spring, and pray that the groundhog will be popping his head out to signal the end of winter, let's delve under the snow for another wild theory to ruin a classic film. Admit it, we all love a good tin foil hat theory, like was Kevin's dad from Home Alone actually a mob boss, or was Friends actually the vision of a psychotic Phoebe Buffay? However, Groundhog Day has gone and clinched it with yet another morbid moment that makes your average dark Disney theory look like a rainbow.
Check out my breakdown of Short List's awesomely morbid Groundhog Day theory:
On the surface, #BillMurray's time-loop comedy is your typical rom-com with a dash of déjà vu, but what if the film carried a more sinister message? What if Murray's time in Punxsutawney as local celeb weatherman Phil Connor's actually never happened, and Phil was dead/dying all along? Hello M. Night Shyamalan, what are you doing here? While it may sound like the plot twist from The Sixth Sense, the theory at least has some legs to stand on. You will never think of the 1993 classic in the same way again.
'Do You Have Life Insurance, Phil?'
There is already the sense of irony that a top of his field reporter can't predict a huge blizzard coming their way, and this is where the theory starts. Note the weather when Phil can't get back to Pittsburgh and what he is wearing. He stands on the highway chatting to the state official wearing little more than a thin blue shirt and shivering away. I'm no doctor, but that isn't exactly the kind of outfit suitable for use during a freak snow storm, and surely Phil would be opening himself up to the likes of, oh I don't know, HYPOTHERMIA? Phil is visibly seen chattering, so a nice hot shower should sort him right out — but wait. If you also remember, the shower back at Cherry Street B&B is ice cold.
Phil spends his evening avoiding his co-workers and drinking far too much. So, woozy from the boozing, and frozen to the bone from a day at the mercy of the elements, the theory goes that when Phil jumps out of the bath from his ice shower, he actually takes a spill and hits his head. The cocktail of alcohol and low body temperature puts him into a permanent coma, playing out for the rest of his days as a never-ending Groundhog Day. If you remember, we never see Phil actually go to bed, or set the alarm. The last we see of him is him wandering the halls in a fluffy gown moaning about the water, then BAM, we just jump-cut to 6am and the soothing tones of "I Got You Babe." Phil never actually went to bed and his body is still there on the bathroom floor!
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Dance With The Devil
If bathroom brain bashing isn't bad enough, it gets worse still. You remember Stephen Tobolowsky 's bumblingly joyous Ned Ryerson, trying to sell Phil life insurance? There is a whole irony in the fact about life insurance in itself: a metaphor for death and foreseeing the end. While Ryerson might seem like comic relief to Connors's cantankerous bastard, what if Ned was actually the Devil? Wait, what? A ruse about life insurance is actually Ned's way of introducing himself to Phil. There is some spiel about being a childhood friend, but Phil has no recollection of Ryerson. Phil seems like a pretty savvy man, so someone as boisterous as Ned would surely have stuck around in Phil's memory. Then there is the line:
“Watch out for that first step, it’s a doooozy.”
Everything that seemed so wrong in Phil's day started after that meeting with Ned. Does the warning of "watch out for that first step" pre-empt Phil's later tumble from the tub and impending demise?
Sure, we see Phil do a lot of good with his time (eventually), including buy a young Michael Shannon a Wrestlemania ticket, help out some old biddies, and use the Heimlich manoeuvre to stop someone from choking, but is it too little too late? Just like Murray's character from Scrooged, Phil Connors is actually a bit of a sh*t. Self-centered, boozing, and rude, his time in Punxsutawney represents his time in limbo, deciding if he will go to heaven or hell — if Ryerson represents the Devil, that Andie MacDowell's Rita is his angel. Ultimately it is Rita who Phil tries to impress, and it is she who reforms his character. Unable to be swayed to "the dark side" by Ned, Phil gets his happy ending with Rita as they walk off into a snow-covered lane. Notice the fade to a clear blue sky for the final shot — this is the film's version of heaven.
Death's Sweet Embrace
But, what other proof is there for these wild accusations? You see Phil try and kill himself over and over again, but to no avail. Of course, if what you are experiencing isn't really happening, you wouldn't be able to kill yourself. It is the whole dream scenario all over again, where you can live out your wildest fantasies/worst nightmares without repercussions. While the theory is almost certainly all baloney, you can't help but admit there is some validity to the thought. In cases of coma or head trauma, the brain keeps working, but eternity can seem like seconds. The film plays down the amount of time Phil repeats the same day, but director Harold Ramis himself openly admits that he think Phil was trapped in the same loop for the equivalent of around 10,000 years. When Phil finally returns to "normality" and gets his swansong of walking off into the snow, it is the final twitch as his body gives up. Somewhere on the floor of the Cherry Street B&B lies a cold and naked Phil, slipping away into death. How very cheerful — enjoy the rest of your day!
Check out the trailer for Groundhog Day and don't forget our poll below!
What do you think about the crazy 'Groundhog Day' theory?