A person reliving the same day over and over again– with such a spectacularly simple yet wildly brilliant idea, Groundhog Day became a cultural phenomenon. Infamously, Danny Rubin, the screenwriter of the 1993 film has said previously that this wasn’t even his best idea at the time, which certainly isn’t bad for a writer who hasn’t coined any other notable works, but has come away with a regularly used expression in the lexicon.
Experiencing an odd boom of late, the premise of the time loop leans in to the basic experiences of life in a capitalist world where, despite each new day, our dreary jobs and lives appear so similar from one day to the next that it seems as if we’re on living on repeat. The Groundhog Day premise, though, injects a little hope into this wintry nihilism by arguing that more can be accomplished, but one must really push themselves (or accept life as it is) in order to get anything to actually ever change. It’s a genius idea, really, and deserves its spot as an oft-quoted de ja vu in our habit-driven lives, though maybe not so much that it’s inspiring a Marlon Wayans movie named Naked or multiple television Christmas-every-day specials. With so many people wanting to get in on the repeated action (and Netflix’s Russian Doll re-mastering it for television), take a look at these movies about being stuck in the same day. See you tomorrow!
7 Happy Death Day (2017)
Alongside its downright awful title, this movie feels like it has two entirely different genres mixed together which never entirely gel. Happy Death Day is an irritating and clunky movie that pitches Scream through the lens of an Instagram filter. It feels constantly off, and not at all at home. With a sincere lack of actual scares and weak motives, by the time our main character actually becomes vaguely likable, we don’t even care any longer if she lives to see tomorrow. Despite an actually funny montage of suicide attempts (which is, of course, blatantly taken from Groundhog Day) set to a peppy Paramore song, Happy Death Day is neither a good comedy nor a good horror film.
6 Source Code (2011)
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal has the incredible ability to flirt between big budget and indie movies whenever it seems good to him. Almost combining the two sensibilities, Source Code is certainly big budget in its technology and production, but with the intimacy and intuitive feel of a very small one. Directed by Duncan Jones (Moon), this film blends Quantum Leap science fiction with a Hitchcockian sense of imminent doom. Follow Gyllenhaal down the twisting tracks as he attempts to find out just who keeps blowing up the darn train. The only downside to this film is that it feels too focused on its science, which would be noble if it didn’t distract from actual character development, with everyone coming off a little two-dimensional.
5 Boss Level (2021)
This is a really fun movie, with such a game cast. It’s sleek, and has a feel being a ‘video game movie,’ despite not being based on any previous piece of work. Frank Grillo (Body Cam, Captain America), always so tremendously hit-and-miss, is the walking stop watch here as he fights his way through a collection of unique and odd mercenaries. Boss Level really gives off the impression of progress, one akin to playing a video game toward its inevitable final boss, as you see the main character learn from the previous scene’s mistakes and apply it to the next. Ignore the half-baked science, and you should have a blast, especially with Mel Gibson surprisingly shining as the baddie.
4 Palm Springs (2020)
If, like the rest of us, you watched the trailer and believed that this was going to be a mere Groundhog Day rip-off featuring that obnoxious guy from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, you too would be dead wrong. Nay, Palm Springs was a surprise delight that merely happened to have a twee and frustratingly unimaginative trailer. A sunny, boozy, woozy film that doesn’t really hold its characters aloft, but instead deals with a sense of stone-cold nihilism. Palm Springs says, yes, you’re living the same day over and over again– but you’re getting progressively more hungover each time. Adding the nice touch of others outside the couple also experiencing the time-loop phenomenon is a real trick toward exhuming this sub-sub-genre from its grave.
3 50 First Dates (2004)
Unlike pretty much every other picture on this list, this is the only real one that doesn’t seem to have any fantasy elements– no time travel, no intervention from God, no sci-fi wizardry, just one rather unfortunate head injury. Both Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler are a perfectly matched rom-com couple in 50 First Dates, as a woman can only remember a single day at a time – resulting in a man’s belief that he can convince her to fall in love with him in a mere 24 hours (again, something out of Groundhog Day). A plot of this nature could quite easily descend into the realm of the merely creepy, but the two leads keep things delightful throughout.
2 Edge of Tomorrow (AKA Live Die Repeat) (2014)
Based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s Manga All You Need Is Kill, Tom Cruise continues his purple patch with the Sci-Fi genre (See: Minority Report, Oblivion), in an Emily Blunt-starring war zone. The English setting, featuring American actors, is a refreshing change of pace for such a massive Hollywood movie, and gives a real sense of this being a genuinely global battle for the planet. Edge of Tomorrow is confident and ballsy, but with a frustratingly weak by-the-numbers CGI finale. It doesn’t make the movie fail whatsoever, it’s just that the ‘final boss battle’ seems a little flat in comparison to the hard work the rest of the film had made leading up to it. The only other thing this film gets wrong is not casting Sean Bean as the man who can’t stop dying; otherwise, this is the biggest-budget, action-packed, energetic retelling of the ‘one-day time-loop’ scenario put to film so far.
1 Groundhog Day (1993)
Well, it was inevitable. A grouchy and misanthropic Bill Murray is a weatherman trapped in small-town Punxsutawney in order to capture the celebrations for Groundhog Day. Little does he know that tomorrow, they will also be celebrating it again… and again… because every single day is the same as yesterday, but he is the only one who seems to remember. Groundhog Day seems to pack so much thought into its run time, touching on what life means, the nature of love and maturity, God(s), and even depression and (repeated) suicide. WhatCulture meticulously reckons that Bill Murray’s character was stuck in the time loop for a whopping 33 years and 350 days, enough time for some serious misery, spiritual and philosophical reflections, and as many pastries as possible. Watch out for this film, it’s a doozy.
Stephen Tobolowsky claims that a Groundhog Day TV Series is now in the works, and will be somewhat of a sequel.
About The Author