Sometimes, a movie is just intended as escapist fluff. Other times, a movie can be a lofty religious or philosophical meditation on the meaning of life (or lack thereof). And every once in a great while, a movie that works as escapist fluff on one level can also resonate with viewers at their deepest core.
Groundhog Day is one such example.
As Michael Faust writes in Philosophy Now, Bill Murray’s enduring comedy can be “viewed on the most trivial level (as) just another Hollywood rom-com, but on closer inspection it furnishes a dazzling treatment of Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence, even illuminating Deleuze and Irigaray’s conflicting interpretations of this key Nietzschean idea.”
Wow. And here we liked the movie because of that cute little groundhog.
Seriously, many religious believers from Eastern and Western traditions claim to find their core beliefs reflected in Groundhog Day. Even if you don’t see Nietzschean ideas or ancient religious truths in it, Groundhog Day’s story of a narcissistic jerk who gets trapped in re-living the same day over and over still offers a fairly simple lesson worth noting.
When you think about it, all we do really is live the same day over and over. As Murray’s character learns, we can choose to live it in a careless way that ends with us driving off a cliff or with us using it to cultivate a way of life that continually improves who we are.
Or we can also just sit back and laugh at Murray’s comedic genius and that cute little groundhog.