Sunday is Groundhog Day, when the citizens of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania drag the titular critter from his or her home and force it to predict the weather. It’s based on a tradition that goes back nearly two centuries. A more humane tradition, however, is spending the 2nd of February watching Groundhog Day, the classic 1993 comedy (and future video game) in which Bill Murray’s cantankerous weatherman is mysteriously forced to live the holiday in an infinite loop. Well, here’s one better: Murray, and a few of his old castmates, have returned to this hellscape, and for a good cause: to sell jeeps.
As ever, we see Murray’s Phil Connors, nearly three decades older, awaking in a B&B to the strains of Sonny & Cher. He runs afoul of Ned Ryerson (Stephen Tobolowsky), pesky insurance salesman. He kidnaps the town groundhog from the town mayor (real life bro Brian Doyle-Murray). But this time he peels off in a flashy new Rubicon — over and over and over and over and over again.
In the movie this act was an one of desperation: Phil was at the end of his rope, and he spends a small chunk of the movie repeatedly killing himself, hoping that would jostle him out of his ouroboros. But this is an ad trying to sell some motor vehicles. And so Phil is chipper, just having fun, and we never see if he dies or if he simply keeps waking up to do it all over again. “Not a bad day,” he says at ad’s end, which is not how the Phil Connors we know felt about it.
The original Groundhog Day came out 27 years ago, although not on February 2 — they missed that date and opened, ten days later, on February 12. They may have missed any Groundhog Day revelers, but the movie was one of 1993’s top grossers, and it’s stayed in the public consciousness since, inspiring laughs but also deeper ponderances about its redemptive arc, its Buddhist-ish philosophy, and the possibility that Phil may have spent hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe millions of years in that loop before breaking free. But at least he got to give some wrestling tickets to a young Michael Shannon.