Rise and shine, campers! And don’t forget your booties, ’cause it’s cooooold out there today.
It’s cold out there every day.
Today, Punxsutawney Phil — the Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary — will predict whether we will have six more weeks of winter. According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Phil has seen his shadow 97 times, and hasn’t seen it (predicting an early spring) only 14 times. Phil’s track record is hotly disputed, though he’s has had a pretty good run recently. Nevertheless, thousands will await the sunrise and the groundhog at Gobbler’s Knob in the tiny Pennsylvania hamlet that has become known as the “Weather Capital of the World,” due in no small part to the movie that makes every day Groundhog Day.
This is one time where the Internet really fails to capture the true excitement of a movie about a large squirrel predicting the weather. However, you can see the trailer as a refresher:
The appeal of the film transcends ideology. In 2005, Roger Ebert revisited it:
“Groundhog Day” is a film that finds its note and purpose so precisely that its genius may not be immediately noticeable. It unfolds so inevitably, is so entertaining, so apparently effortless, that you have to stand back and slap yourself before you see how good it really is.
Certainly I underrated it in my original review; I enjoyed it so easily that I was seduced into cheerful moderation. But there are a few films, and this is one of them, that burrow into our memories and become reference points. When you find yourself needing the phrase This is like “Groundhog Day” to explain how you feel, a movie has accomplished something.
At the other end of the political spectrum, Jonah Goldberg also revisited the movie in 2005, with an equally effusive meditation that grabbed the cover of National Review:
When I set out to write this article, I thought it’d be fun to do a quirky homage to an offbeat flick, one I think is brilliant as both comedy and moral philosophy. But while doing what I intended to be cursory research — how much reporting do you need for a review of a twelve-year-old movie that plays constantly on cable? — I discovered that I wasn’t alone in my interest. In the years since its release the film has been taken up by Jews, Catholics, Evangelicals, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, and followers of the oppressed Chinese Falun Gong movement…
Indeed, in 2004, the Independent observed that the Harold Ramis comedy has been hailed by some religious leaders as the most spiritual film of all time. In addition to the examples given in that article, another can be found at the Christian Science Monitor.
But maybe the last word should be given to Phil Connors:
When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.
Update: Phil saw his shadow, signaling six more weeks of winter.