Happy Groundhog Day! With the East Coast in the frosty clutches of cold and snow, it’s high time we turn to Punxsutawney, Pennyslyvania to see if Phil will emerge from his nook and condemn us to six more weeks of winter not. More importantly, it’s also the time of year we should take a moment to acknowledge another national institution: Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day, which happens to celebrate its 20th anniversary this month.
It’s easy to undervalue (or even dislike) Groundhog Day as a goofy high-concept comedy, a gimmicky Twilight Zone cast-off, a sideways take on It’s A Wonderful Life. It shouldn’t be. As the critics and directors (including David O. Russell) who listed it on their 2012 Sight & Sound Greatest Films ballot can attest, Groundhog Day is not only a great film, it’s a veritable treatise on life. As such, it might be cinema’s greatest self-help manual, full of invaluable lessons about both the day-to-day minutia and profound things that can make our individual existences better.
We’ve gathered together ten of the many lessons found in the film (in no order of significance) so you might learn what Phil (Bill Murray) did without having to go through the ordeal of Ned Ryerson. For maximum enjoyment of this list, we recommend you listen to either Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” or “The Pennsylvania Polka” as you read along.
1. Don’t Set Your Alarm to a Radio Station
On the off chance people even use traditional bedside alarms anymore (don’t we all just use our phones now?), Groundhog Day reminds us that it’s generally a bad idea to make your wake up noise a radio station. Even if you’re not going to wind up in a situation where you have to relive the same day and same song over and over again, who wants to risk the possibility of waking up to inane chatter or One Direction?