What would you do if you had a do-over? How would your favorite books, films, or TV shows look if you could wake up one day and change the outcome from what you already know to be true? Would you try to save Dumbledore or Snape? What would happen if Batman saved Rachel instead of Harvey, the eventual Two-Face, in The Dark Knight? How different would Arrow be if Oliver’s father survived on the island with him?
Today on the Geeky Parent Guide, we will explore a day destined to determine whether spring will arrive early or if the cold days of winter will be extended. Did you know there’s a website dedicated to Groundhog Day? Before we explore some of the facts about this day, let’s take a look at the film that extended the groundhog’s reach by teaching Bill Murray, and all of those watching him on the big screen, the importance of making the best of what we have and learning from our mistakes.
Let’s dive into Groundhog Day (1993) and, hopefully, learn some important lessons to share with our kids that took weatherman Phil Connors hundreds, or thousands, of days to grasp. Now, despite the movie being released 25 years ago, SPOILER ALERT, we’re about to talk about key moments in the classic film.
It’s Okay to Be Wrong
If your job is to predict the weather, there might be times when overcast ruins a predicted bright and shiny day, or perhaps a downpour catches everyone off-guard and without an umbrella. In Phil’s particular situation, his forecast of a blizzard missing the area doesn’t go as planned. Perhaps this simple notion of getting something wrong sends Phil into a spiral of hating his assignment – covering Groundhog Day. Perfection, or being right most of the time in Phil’s case, shouldn’t be a goal that defines us. Shooting for the stars, working hard, and doing our best to succeed are behaviors we hope to see in our kids, as long as they know it’s okay to miss – it’s okay to not be perfect. Striving to be perfect is one thing; understanding the reality behind a constant state of perfection is something else entirely.
Keep Calm and Work Through It
Don’t let the feeling of doing the same thing again, or something you don’t necessarily want to do, prevent you from trying new things or finding ways to make yourself happy. As we soon discover in Groundhog Day, Phil is unhappy with his assignment to travel to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and cover the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. In this particular moment, parents can take the opportunity to share with their children that life does not always present us with only the opportunities we want to pursue. No, as Phil vents his frustrations and only hopes to get back home, it also highlights how one should not act when dealing with a task that you are less than thrilled about.
There Are Ways to Deal with Sorrow
As Phil realizes his inevitable fate of replaying the same day, waking up to the same song, and having the same conversations over and over, depression takes over and leads to some disturbing scenes that might not be suitable for those within the PG-rated age group. Possibly one of the most significant topics to be discussed with kids during this movie is the importance of letting them know that your door is always open. Perhaps talking about one’s feelings might not be readily desirable for some, especially with their parents; however, reminding them that there are always people willing to listen and help is always a message worth repeating. Lay down the groundwork, so kids can understand there are other ways of dealing with their emotions rather than following Phil’s footsteps on several occasions in the movie.
Although Groundhog Day is labeled as a comedy or romantic comedy, it shouldn’t take away from an opportunity to talk to your kids about something as important as suicide prevention. It might not be an easy conversation, but having the conversation will let your kids know you are by their side at all times, and there are resources available to help – even if the need for those resources is presently absent.
If you or someone you know might need help, let them know that friends, family, and a network dedicated to helping is available, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). In the movie, Phil hated waking up day after day, reliving the same nightmare, and perhaps the greatest lesson to share with kids is that life can move on beyond the murky.
Let Life Lead You to New Things
As Phil learns to move on, he accepts that his life doesn’t have to be the same thing over and over. He decides to be a lifeline for others, in a way he couldn’t see for himself earlier in the film. He learns to play the piano, ultimately performing on stage with a band. He becomes a master sculptor, showcasing his skills by carving a portrait of the woman he eventually falls in love with, Rita, played by Andie MacDowell. He even speaks French.
Along with finding ways to have fun by trying new things, he takes that positivity and extends a helping hand. He repeatedly saves a boy who falls from a tree (Movieclips). He also performs the Heimlich maneuver on someone choking in a restaurant. And, of course, who can forget changing a flat tire for a group of elderly women in a car. “It’s nothing ma’am. I had the tire and the jack. Just be comfortable.”
What better way is there to highlight positive deeds to your children? Despite knowing his actions will ultimately be reset as soon as he wakes up, Phil decides to do the right thing, again and again. Perhaps it’s because he knows it’s the right thing to do or simply because it makes him happy. There isn’t any financial gain, and by this point, it seems as though he has left his efforts to impress Rita behind.
Learning Someone’s Likes Doesn’t Mean Chemistry
Early on, Phil uses the motto recently used with the film, Edge of Tomorrow (2014), “Live. Die. Repeat,” to gain knowledge of Rita to strike up a romantic relationship. Learning someone’s likes and dislikes doesn’t mean the other person is going to be impressed. During one of the many repeated days, Rita eventually learns that Phil knows way too many things for a person she barely knows, and it’s creepy. I’m not entirely certain when Phil’s feelings manifested into something concrete, but it does seem to matter after he attempts to change his outlook on life and do good things for others – and not think completely of himself.
As Phil relives his last Groundhog Day (within the frame of the movie), his genuine appreciation for life sets a spark for Rita, and it’s that sincerity she finds attractive. This particular moment for parents might help their kids understand that it’s easier to find love when others see what truly makes you happy, and not necessarily what you think makes others happy.
Now, groundhog.org is your place for fun activities and the history associated with Groundhog Day. This year “will be Punxsutawney Phil’s 132nd prognostication!” In addition to this yearly sighting, there are a bevy of events available, leading up to and after the special day, including “Chainsaw Carving,” “Scavenger Hunt at the Weather Center,” and “Groundhog Story Time & Crafts for Kids.” Later in the year, visitors have had the opportunity for fun at the “Groundhog Picnic & Phil Phest,” with food, games, and music. There has also been a specialty beer fest, wine festival, 5K run and 2.2K walk, and plenty of other activities.
Have you every taken a trip to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, for Groundhog’s Day? Have you seen Groundhog Day, and if so, did you repeat that experience more than once? Are there any other lessons from the movie you would recommend highlighting as an excellent topic to discuss with your kids? Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below, and then head over to Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date with more geeky goodness.
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.