Ambitious Mediocrity

About 5 years too late to be relevent!!

Category: groundhog day

The 7900, sorry 8300 word, Ultimate Groundhog Day written/ picture essay/ commentary/ scrapped podcast thing you will ever need. Part Three Words 5472 through 8374

If you missed parts one or two.  Well now you don’t have to.

Sunny day in Punxsutawney

1:00:58 It’s sunny! If you watch this movie the hundreds of times I have (thousands if you count random scenes I catch on TV), you will notice that during the bleakest part of the entire movie, when Phil the human steals Phil the groundhog (meta!), it is the only sunny exterior.  This happened for a couple reasons.  The first one is again because of he unique structure of this plot, every exterior scene for the film needed, for coverage and editing purposes, to be shot many times in every type of weather, which Northern Illinois is more than glad to provide.  That means in all types of weather, sunny, cloudy, rainy, snow or meatballs, actors were pulled out of whatever holding station/bed and breakfast/ Lloyd’s Paint Store they were kept and told to get to main street, Gobbler’s Knob, or whatever while they had the light/ snow.  The only actor they couldn’t get all the time was Phil, groundhog Phil.  The groundhogs were especially bred just for this film by animal handler Bill Hoffman (he’s the bearded guy next to Brian Doyle Murray holding the groundhog or this guy holding this monkey)

Bill Hoffman loves his monkey.

and they could only get the groundhogs for one day.  That day, when they would shoot this scene just happen to be the sunniest of the shoot.  They waited until dark hoping to get clouds for additional shots with some cloud coverage, but alas had to settle for the visual irony.

Also originally Phil was just going to kill the Groundhog in its lair, but that was deemed a little tooo Caddyshack.  And in the sequel to Groundhog Day, they were going to have Dan Ackroyd and Jackie Mason come in and ruin everything with a high pitched squeal and make me watch it on continuous loop on HBO when I was 9.  Nope, sorry that was a fever dream I having.


1:01:57 To avoid paying for stuntmen for a second time, this scene was deemed merely “fast driving.”

Don’t Drive Angry by Michael Rapa

1:02:34 “Don’t drive angry.”  Sooo true.

The groundhog, agitated like many actors after too many takes, bit Bill Murray twice and ended the shooting for the day in order for shots to be administered.

GHD 10413

1:04:13 “He might be OK.”

Phil suicide #1.  They even built a ramp to send the pick-up off of but had little effect except to make the truck turn over.

Death by toast

1:05:04 Suicide #2.  Death by toast.

Death by truck

1:05:17 Suicide #3 Death by truck.  I couldn’t see going out this way, unless it was a HUGE truck or train or freight train strapped with a cowcatcher, carrying a house, trees filled with cement.

swandive by rick lefevour

1:05:36 Suicide #4 Falling Angel. This is stuntman Rick LeFevour doing a fantastic, well held swan dive off the clock tower of the Woodstock Opera House.  The Opera House is seen earlier standing as the Pennsylvania Hotel where Larry and Rita are staying.

The actual Opera House is supposedly haunted by a ghost named Elvira who was a lead ballet dancer who did a simular swan dive off the bell tower after failing to get a part and is said to haunt the place ever since.

bill murray zombie one

1:06:00 The first zombie Murray.  A role he would later recreate.

murray zombieland Read the rest of this entry »


The 7500, nope 7900 word, Ultimate Groundhog Day written/ picture essay/ commentary/ scrapped podcast thing you will ever need. Part Two: Words 2842- 5471

If you missed Part One, allow me link you.

13:08 Nepotism alert: Brian Doyle Murray as Buster, Head Groundhog Keeper.


13:25 “Master at work?” Hardly.  Master Poophead (Avatar reference!) Since 1887, Phil has only been right 39% of the time.  That’s worse then a weighted coin flip.  I’m going with Staten Island Chuck and blaming my new interborough loyalties.

15:00 Squirrel?  Indeed.  Less fearsome to be sure but groundhogs are from the family  Sciuridae which are ground squirrels known marmots.  Which is a sub-set of varmints.


16:00 Blizzard.  Name something that did not push off and hit Altoona.  The blizzard was not surprisingly complete movie fabrication.  Most of the snow, throughout the movie, came from 40 foot trailer housing hundreds of blocks of ice ready to be chipped at will. White blankets made up for most of the snow in the background. And (Nepotism alert) Ramis even went so far as to have his cousin shaking the No Parking signs as if it were the whipping highway wind.  Even the voice of the cops voice wasn’t real. Completely ADR’d.  I bet cop boy and Andie MacDowell shared a sweet vermouth over that pain.

The Amstutz Expressway, named for the unremarkable, but very Chicago, Mel Amstutz, where the scene was filmed, was also where the big chase scene from the Blues Brothers was filmed.  You know with the cars and the jumps and the nazis.  That one.

16:50 “What about the sattelite? Is it snowing in space?”

16:54 “Don’t you have some kind of line for celebrities or emergencies? I’m both. I’m a celebrity in an emergency.” and then…


The shovel hit, which Harold Ramis called “cheap, but necessary.”  Or just good comedy. The guy who hits him with the shovel is Douglas Blakeslee, who also played Doris’s Number One Fan in “A League Of Their Own.” Quite the looker. THE DOUGLAS BLAKESLEE Read the rest of this entry »

The 7500 word, Ultimate Groundhog Day written/ picture essay/ commentary/ scrapped podcast thing you will ever need. Part One Words 1-2841


On February 13th 1993, I was 15.  My father died the previous summer and since I was 15, I was in the middle of a weird social transition that they make movies about starring Freddie Prinze Jr. (it was 1993.)  Formally dormant parts of my personality were coming to the surface and I had recently discovered you could wear jeans for months on end without changing them (a principle I still employ to this day).  So to say I was susceptible to seminal pieces of pop culture would be an understatement like saying I thought rewatching Mallrats in my 30’s was a terrible idea. In the middle of February of 1993,  I was dropped off at the Liberty Tree Mall with my childhood friend, Jonathon Coste and his friend Mike Garvin to see the “New Bill Murray Movie.”  At that point there was Ghostbusters and little else on my personal movie Mount Rushmore and I didn’t even know or care that it was directed by Egon.  Ninety four minutes later,  I left the theater, dipped for the first time, in what I call “movie euphoria.” It’s a kind of joy for life that comes from being emmersed in a happy ending and love for the art form of film that wills one to literally dance throught the food court past the Taco Bell, Sparro and place where you could get the chocolate chip cookie birthday cake like I was Fred Astaire and Usher’s legitamately adopted Asian son.  Jon, taken aback by my newfound Rain Singin lightfootedness, told Mike “He’s never actually like this.”  Not that you care, but I feel this movie was the day I knew I wanted to make a great piece of comedic art and everytime I watch Groundhog, whether its on Netflix, DVD or TBS is a reminder that there are heights (CN Tower heights) I have no shot at hitting but still reminds me to aspire to them anyway. Did I mention this is funny?  So for the next billion words, give or take a hundred mill,  I have watched, splayed and dissected every point, character, and theme in this movie, reading every article and studying every wiki, IMDB page and Ned Ryerson fan site down to the marrow so that you never have to read another article on Groundhog Day again.  Until tomorrow.  SEE WHAT I DID THERE! First the stats. Groundhog Day was released on February 13th 1993 and made $70,906,973. It won a BAFTA, a Saturn and in 2006 was included in the National Registry of Films to be permently preserved (ironic right?).  According to Time OUT London it’s the 8th Greatest Comedy of all time, #42 for, #20 The Guardian, #38, #34 AFI comedy but #8 fantasy film, it sports a very shiny 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating and is #1 in my heart. (All of these are subject to change the second one of these sites/ magazine (that will soon just be sites)/ vital organs/ has a low readership week/ massive clot and feels the need to put Anchorman at number one just to appeal audience that doesn’t know who there only used to be one flavor of Dorito.) FADE IN.


00:04  I do miss the old half film/ half animated title screens of my youth.  The Columbia logo itself, much like some other statue the French gave us, is a female personification of these fine United States. Although, I don’t think yellow is quite her color. Or anyones.  And whatever happened to Coumbia Pictures anyway…. oh, they fall under the umbrella of Sony Pictures. Oh they released some small independent movie called Skyfall.  Oh that made more money than California. Well fuck me then.


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More Groundhog Day.


©tim maclean

Film sets are always war.  People competing over visions of the same script and conflict can sometime spawn greatness.  The saddest fact of Groundhog Day is that Bill Murray and Harold Ramis have barely spoken since. There’s never been much in terms of explanation from Bill, of course so most of the facts of this split have come from this Harold Ramis New Yorker profile.

Groundhog Day: IMDB trivia brought to life.

Well I was going to this but fine people at the CHIVE beat me to it.   15 fine facts with pictures! Including this bombshell!!!




I’m no Andie MacDowell fan but it would have made the piano scene at the end a little more suggestive.

Groundhog Day: Ned? NED RYERSON! BING!!!


And if you don’t listen already, Stephen Tobolowsky’s the Tobolowsky Files is one of the great storytelling podcasts in the ether today and his podcast story of Groundhog Day is naturally one the series highlights.  Enjoy.

Groundhog Day Week (or so): Good Advice

Friends making illustrations together brings me a warm feeling.

6805203595_53565177ee_obrought to you by Chris Piascik

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It’s Groundhog Day! Again.

And in celebration of the 20th anniversary of my favorite movie of all time Groundhog Day,  for the next week and some change (until the 13th the official 20th anniversary), Ill be posting art, interviews and whatever the fuck I can find pertaining to the greatest piece of comedic film making the world as produced.

9499849185242641_0PcZ7ycV_b groundhog_bs_72 zz1e1a8d33