SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS FOR groundhog DAY
Additional Discussion Questions
5. State a life-lesson you can take from this movie. Suggested Response: Answers will vary. One good response is that life is meaningless and unsatisfying unless people extend themselves to others. Another is that love is the only way out of the humdrum repetitiousness of every day life. Another lesson is that people need to break out of the routines in which they are trapped.
6. Outside the bowling alley Phil asks the two locals "What if there were no tomorrow?" One guy answers "That would mean there will be no consequences, there will be no hangovers, we could do whatever we wanted." What does the movie tell us about this idea? Suggested Response: The film tells us that after a while, that solution becomes boring and unsatisfying.
7. Phil meets the same people day after day until he finally learns how to treat them with compassion. Which interaction best exemplifies his insight into his dismissive behavior? Suggested Response: Answers will vary. Students may note Phil's treatment of the homeless old man. At first Phil ignores the old man. Later Phil gives him money and during another Groundhog Day Phil takes him to the hospital. On that day, Phil is obviously emotionally committed to the old man, demanding to see the chart and refusing to accept the nurse's evaluation of the situation. Then Phil tries to feed the old man and struggles to revive him but ultimately accepts his death with sorrow.
8. When Phil starts to use his repeated days to his advantage, what changes does he make in himself? Suggested Response: Answers will vary: Phil learns to play the piano, he learns to appreciate people, he finds numerous ways to help the local townspeople, and he begins to read for pleasure.
9. What may be the reasons that Groundhog Day, as opposed to any of a number of minor cultural events, was chosen for the time loop in this film? Suggested Response: Any well reasoned answer is acceptable. Some students may note that there is a bit of intellectual snobbery in the disdain for this tradition. Others may feel that the day itself has something to do with the hope of change that comes with spring. Others may note the fact that Groundhog Day repeats every year and for many seems to be the same every year.
10. In some Eastern religions a person lives an endlessly repeating series of lives until, one day, enlightenment is attained and the soul escapes from the endless repetition of life. How does Phil's experience in Groundhog Day follow a similar pattern? How does it differ? Suggested Response: It's similar in that Phil is doomed to repeat Groundhog Day until he learns how to love, at which point he is released from the repetition. It is different because Eastern religious enlightenment comes from a release from becoming indifferent to the cares of the world, including being disinterested in relationships with people. Phil is released from repetition back into a better world in which he can love and in which his life will not be stunted by selfishness and arrogance.
See Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.
Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions
See Questions 2, 4 & 7.
(Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)
See Questions 2, 4 & 7.
See also Discussion Questions which Explore Ethical Issues Raised by Any Film.
4. Imagine that you are a film critic for a major newspaper. Write a critique of the film. Be sure to support your conclusions with evidence and logical arguments.
5. Write a back-story for the story told by this film describing how Phil got to be the conceited and limited individual who he was at the beginning of the story. In your story describe action (including dialogue), reveal thoughts (including internal monologues), describe observations by the characters, use descriptive language (including images of people, places and things), and compare one thing to another.
To prepare for this assignment, have students complete TWM's Exercise in "Showing Rather than Telling" When Writing a Narrative. Also check out the Narrative Writing Lesson Plan.
See also Additional Assignments for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.
Links to the Internet
- Philosophical Films;
- Bill Murray Battles Pittsburgh Time Warp by Janet Maslin, New York Times, February 12, 1993;
- Review of Groundhog Day in Philosophical Films;
- Review of Groundhog Day in "Philosophy Now" by Mike Faust;
- Groundhog Day: the perfect comedy, for ever by Ryan Gilbey, The Guardian, Thursday 7 February 2013;
- Phil's Shadow Michael P. Foley Writing in Touchstone, a Christian journal;
- Revisiting Groundhog Day by Andrew Culbertson in The Film Journal;
Common Core State Standards that can be Served by this Learning Guide
(Anchor Standards only)
Multimedia: Anchor Standard #7 for Reading (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). (The three Anchor Standards read: "Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media, including visually and quantitatively as well as in words.") CCSS pp. 35 & 60. See also Anchor Standard # 2 for ELA Speaking and Listening, CCSS pg. 48.
Writing: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 5 and 7- 10 for Writing and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 41 & 63.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 3 (for ELA classes). CCSS pg. 48.
Not all assignments reach all Anchor Standards. Teachers are encouraged to review the specific standards to make sure that over the term all standards are met.
Selected Awards, Cast and Director
Selected Awards: None.
Featured Actors: Bill Murray as
Phil; Andie MacDowell as
Rita; Chris Elliott as
Larry; Stephen Tobolowsky as
Ned; Brian Doyle-Murray as
Buster;Marita Geraghty as
Nancy; Angela Paton as
Director: Harold Ramis
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