Issues Of Interpersonal Communication In The Film Groundhog Day

What would you do if you were to live the same day every time? As I watched Groundhog Day, I found myself asking the same question. Groundhog Day begins with Phil Connors who is an arrogant meteorologist and goes to Punxsutawney Pennsylvania for a broadcast about the annual events that lead to the groundhog’s coming out. He rushes to finish the broadcast and tries his best to get it wrapped up quickly so he can return home in time. Phil was forced by a snowstorm to stay another night at Punxsutawney. The next morning, everything was the exact same as the day before. Phil thought he was having a bad dream. However, when he woke up the next day, it was the same as before, he realized that he wasn’t dreaming and sets out to escape the loophole. Phil tried his very best to escape the time loop. This included drunk driving, manipulating others and suicide. Finally, he accepted his fate. After that, he was able to make the most of his situation and live the life he wanted.

Groundhog Day, the movie, shows many situations if one is in the exact same spot on the day. What would you do with your day? Phil was having a drink at the bar with a drunk man. Phil Askes said, “What do you think you would do if everything in your life was identical?” Phil was arrested for driving drunk and was thrown in jail. Steve McCornack stated, “Our self conceptions often lead to us making self-fulfilling predictions about future interaction that will lead us behave in ways that ensure the interaction unfolds as predicted.” Phil did not see value in his actions and did what he liked without considering its consequences. Each day was an adventure that he enjoyed. He began to tire of the same routines and thought that the only way out was for Rita to discover more about him and fall in love. Rita was always against him, no matter how much he tried. Phil felt helpless and began to consider suicide attempts. He gave up, telling Rita the truth. Rita agreed for Phil to spend the night with her and she learned a lot. He woke up the next morning alone, but it was different. He learns to play the piano and ice-sculpt, and becomes more generous towards everyone. Phil began to feel for the sufferings of others, and he became the hero in his community. Rita fell in LOVE with Phil the moment she saw him. Phil fell asleep next Rita and woke with Rita beside him. His joy at the breaking of the curse was overwhelming. Phil Connor was a narcissistic weather forecaster at first. He mocked his job and his coworker by bragging about how he had quit his current job to pursue a career in forecasting. Phil used a lot nonverbal communication throughout the movie. McCornack defined Nonverbal Communication as “intentional/unintentional transmissions meaning through an individual’s physical and behavioral cues.” Phil uses lots of eye rolling and sighing. He called Punxsutawney’s residents hicks and mocked them. He made it clear to his coworker that this was not something he wanted to do and that he is more than everyone. Phil’s behavior made his coworker uncomfortable around him. People don’t like snobs who look down on others.

I was able to see the connection between this movie, and the article. Suzanne Daughton commented that…

It is easy to see why men, particularly later in their lives, tend to be more distant from others and less concerned about other people’s problems if they have ego boundaries that are thicker. Men with rigid ego boundaries are less likely to accept responsibility for others and their situations. They also tend to not feel the feelings of others.

Phil was a man with a large ego who likes to show off his masculinity. He uses his knowledge of women to manipulate them. He got Nancy to sex with himself, but Rita wasn’t able to. He was too egotistical to have a real relationship with either of these women. He finally gives up on trying to make Rita fall in love with his character and embraces the rest of his life. His ego starts to shrink. He learns new hobbies and helps strangers who don’t ask for it. This transcendence is obvious when he was extremely saddened about the inability to save the life of an elderly homeless man. Phil is now able to feel the feelings of others and appreciate how precious life can be.

Interpersonal communication means getting to know someone personally, rather than having ulterior motives. Daughton stated, “He has discovered his purpose and transformed himself.” This is evident in his relationship to Rita. He no longer pursued sex as a way of satisfying his male desires, but instead he was content with having sex with Rita before (or in place thereof) (a stereotypically femininity value). Phil saw a young boy fall from a tree. Every day he decides he wants to catch him. He began doing selfless acts to help people in Punxsutawney. This made him happier. These small acts of kindness, which he does unassisted, led to the love and acceptance of his neighbors.

Works cited

Daughton, S.M. (1996). Groundhog Day: Steps to transcendence through the spiritual power of repetitive form Critical Studies in Mass Communication published an article in Volume 13 which examined the topic of mass communication, exploring it from a variety of angles and discussing its implications. The article was titled “Mass Communication: Its Meaning and Implications” and was published on pages 138-154.

McCornack, Steven. Reflect and 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.


  • adamlewis

    Adam Lewis is a 34-year-old school teacher and blogger who focuses on education. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida and a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Florida. Lewis has been teaching since 2004 and has taught in both public and private schools. He is currently a teacher at a private Christian school in Florida.