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Issues of Interpersonal Communication in The Film Groundhog Day

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What would someone have reacted if they were stuck reliving the same day in the exact same place repeatedly? I often asked myself this same question as I was watching Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day is a romantic comedy movie that starts off with Phil Connors, an arrogant weatherman, who goes to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to do a broadcast of the annual events of the coming out of the groundhog. He hurries up to do the broadcast and tries to wrap it up as fast as possible in order to go home early. A strange snowstorm suddenly occurred, and Phil was forced to stay another night in Punxsutawney, which lead him to be stuck in a time loop. When he woke up the next morning, he was surprised that everything was exactly the same as the previous day. Phil felt that he was in a bad dream, but when he woke the following day repeating itself, he realizes that he is not dream and tries to find a way out of the loophole. From drunk driving to manipulating people to committing suicide, Phil tries his hardest to get out of the time loop. Finally, when he accepted his fate and made the best out of it, then he was finally free from the time loop when he started living his life to the fullest.

The movie Groundhog Day displays many scenarios if one is trapped at the same place on the same day. How would you spend your day repeatedly? Phil was drinking at the bar and speaking to a drunk guy. Phil Askes “What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same and nothing you did mattered?” The drunk guy responded, “That about sums it up for me.” This part of the movie lead Phil to think that there isn’t any value in whatever he’s does in life. This led Phil into heavily drinking and driving crazy away from the cops, getting arrested and thrown into jail. Steve McCornack wrote, “Our self-concepts often lead us to make self-fulfilling prophecies- predictions about future interactions that lead us to behave in ways that ensure that interaction unfolds as we predicted.” Phil saw no value in what he did, so he did whatever he wanted without thinking of its consequences. He treated each day as if it was a game. As the days pass, he grows more tiresome of the same routine, then he thought the only to get out of the time loop is to learn more about Rita and make her fall in love with him. No matter what he did, Rita always rejected him. This event lead Phil feeling hopeless to the point where he tries to attempt multiple suicide. He finally gave up and told Rita the truth and ask her for help. Rita agreed to spending the night with Phil and he learned a lot about himself. The next day he woke up alone again, but this time it was different. He begins to learn the piano, ice sculpting, and became more generous toward everyone. Phil started sympathizing another people’s suffering other than his own and became the town’s hero. Rita saw the new genuine Phil and fall in love with him. Phil fell asleep next to Rita and woke up with her by his side. He was overfilled with joy that the curse has been broken.

The way someone views life can be portrayed through their character. At the beginning of the movie, Phil Connor was a narcissistic forecaster. He was belittling his current career and his coworker when he bragged about leaving his current job because a big network was interested in him. Throughout the movie, Phil displayed a lot of nonverbal communication. McCornack defined nonverbal communication as “intentional or unintentional transmission of meaning through an individual’s nonspoken physical and behavioral cues.” Phil uses a lot of eye rolling, sighing, and sarcasms. He mocked the town people of Punxsutawney by calling them hicks. He made sure his coworker know he doesn’t want to be there and is better than everyone there. This behavior Phil displayed made it hard for his coworker to be around him. Nobody likes a snob that is always looking down on you.

After watching this movie and reading the corresponding article, I can see this movie is linked to the transcendence of gender-based role. Suzanne Daughton wrote:

The thicker the ego boundaries encouraged in masculine socialization help us understand why later in life men generally keep some distance from others and, especially, from other people’s problems. Rigid ego boundaries also suggest why men in general are unlikely to take responsibility for other people and situations, and why they tend not to experience another’s feelings as their own.

Phil had a big ego and likes showing off his masculinity. He tries to manipulate the women by learning about them and using that knowledge as an advantage. He manipulated Nancy to have sex with him, but he couldn’t do the same to Rita. He failed to keep a real connection with both females due to his big ego. After many failed attempts to get Rita to fall in love with him and getting out of the time loop, he finally starts embracing his life. His ego begins to shrink. He starts learning new hobbies for himself and helping strangers that never ask for help. You can see the transcendence from the masculine trait to a more feminine trait when he was very saddened, not being able to save an uncontrollable death of a homeless old man. This shows that he can experience another’s feelings and how precious life is and puts Phil on the right path to changing.

Interpersonal communication is getting to know someone on a personal level rather than having an ulterior motive. Daughton wrote, “He has found his purpose serving others, and has achieved a complete transformation of the self he desired. This is clearest in his relationship with Rita; Rather than pursuing sex before, or in place of intimacy (a stereotypically masculine desire), he is now content with intimacy before, or in place of sex (a stereotypically feminine value).” Phil really matured a lot near the end of the movie. Phil saw a kid fall out of a tree and every day he decides to catch the kid, knowing that kid won’t say “Thank you”, but he knows it’s the right thing to do. He started doing many selfless acts and help strangers in Punxsutawney that made him happier. These little things he does without being asked, made the town people fall in love with him and they became his friends.

Works Cited

  • Daughton, S.M. (1996). The Spiritual Power of Repetitive Form: Steps toward transcendence in Groundhog Day. Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 13, 138-154.
  • McCornack, Steven. Reflect & Relate: An Introduction to Interpersonal Communication. 4th ed., Bedford/St. Martins, 2016.
  • Ramis, H., Albert, T., Erickson, C. O., Rubin, D., Murray, B., MacDowell, A., Elliott, C., Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment (Firm). (2002). Groundhog Day. Culver City, Calif: Columbia TriStar Home Video.

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Issues Of Interpersonal Communication In The Film Groundhog Day. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2022, from
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