Life Lessons from Phil: Why Groundhog Day May be the Ultimate Quarantine Movie

by Julie Edelstein ’22

Source: YouTube

Published Dec. 27th, 2020

Recently, it seems as if every 90s trend has resurfaced. While Doc Martens and scrunchies have exploded in popularity, it’s possible that the phenomenon with the most value to our lives has slipped right under our noses: Harold Ramis’s cinematic novelty, Groundhog Day

While the story itself is a journey on its own, it is the ideas it conveys that strike a chord with lives today as the ultimate quarantine movie. 

The film takes viewers through Kubler-Ross’s “five stages of grief.” As protagonist Phil, played by Bill Murray, relives the same day for decades, he slowly develops as a character and eventually learns to value the simplicity of life.

Denial. Phil is unable to comprehend his situation, as he thinks it’s deja-vu. In March of 2020, students were told that, to take measures for COVID-19, they would be home for a little while. It didn’t seem like a big deal. 

Anger. Coming to realize that he is trapped, Phil’s actions turn malicious as he takes out his irritation on those around him. In 2020, rioters protested mask mandates and demanded schools to reopen. The people turned against their systems.

Bargaining. Failing to recognize consequences, Phil lives life on the edge, exploiting the state he is in as he tries to hold on to the life that was taken from him. Similarly, as the number of COVID-19 cases fell, people began to flood back into the streets, hoping to bring the pain of quarantine to an end. 

Depression. The movie turns dark as Phil, feeling that life is pointless when it’s not moving, goes through a series of suicide attempts, deciding that he would rather die than suffer endless repetition. As the pandemic rages on, thousands are lost, mental health falls rapidly, and many more fall into a pit of loneliness and hopelessness. 

Acceptance. As he realizes that there is nothing he can do to change his situation, Phil realizes his own potential by investing in new passions and helping others. It is because of this new appreciation for the life he has that he is released from the eternal Groundhog Day. 

While many have taken these lessons to heart today, many are still struggling, and Phil’s lament, “it’s cold out there every day,” seems more fitting than ever. In a pandemic, everyone suffers trauma, and it is because of this that the classic film can still stay true to many today. It’s difficult to take a step back and find inner peace in a seemingly impossible situation, but seeing our own value is what slowly gets us to the next day.

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