Gender Roles – Women
Gender Roles – Male
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Room for Improvement:
Language and Sexual Content
Gender Roles - Women: 4 Stars
Rita is an accomplished woman with a promising career. Successful women like her are often portrayed as difficult or stubborn in movies. Or even worse, unhappy with themselves and the drudgery of their jobs. Thankfully, Rita is different. She has a bright personality and a genuine kindness to her. She enjoys her career, but also wants to find love and have a family. She represents a warm example of an impressive woman who genuinely cares for those around her.
Gender Roles - Men: 3.5 Stars
Phil Conners initially avoids any display of sensitivity or affection. But as his days in Punxsutawney wear on, he begins going through the motions of caring about people, especially Rita. He memorizes her likes and dislikes in a number of flawed and unsuccessful attempts to win her over. But in time, a change takes place and he learns to genuinely care not just for Rita, but the entire town of Punxsutawney.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 4 Stars
Rita and the women from Punxsutawney are typical women of various shapes and sizes. A few of them become potential love interests for Phil, but all of them are given funny or warm personalities. Groundhog Day is a rare compilation of the variety of ways that ordinary women shape our lives.
Plot: 2 Stars
Groundhog Day is centered on Phil’s deranged experience in Punxsutawney. Rita provides him with company and comfort as he’s trapped in this freakish eternity, but can only do so one day at a time. The movie never explains what causes, or what ends the mysterious time loop. It’s possible that it’s Rita’s love that eventually breaks the cycle - but it could also be that "Groundhog Day" only comes to an end when Phil learns to genuinely care for others. In either case, Rita’s opportunities to influence the plot are limited to her repeated and soon forgotten daily interactions with Phil.
Character Development: 1.5 Stars
We learn different pieces of Rita as Phil is trying to get to know her. Mostly inconsequential facts like her favorite drink or her favorite ice cream flavor. We also see her caring side when she stays up all night with Phil to try to break the curse, despite how ridiculous his story sounds. But we never learn deep things about her, the things that make her cry or scared or second guess herself. We know that she’s fun and kind and can easily see what Phil sees in her, but Groundhog Day doesn't dig much deeper than that.
Love: 1.5 Stars
Groundhog Day gets off to a rocky start, with Phil surreptitiously collecting info on Rita and crafting his responses to impress her. He comes across as a shady predator, trying to fool her into thinking that they have similar interests and ideas. Thankfully, Rita calls him out when he makes the mistake of telling her he loves her. She sharply reminds him that he hardly knows her, and that making a laundry list of her favorite foods isn't love. Phil does eventually abandon these shallow tactics and appears to take a genuine interest in her, but he never shares anything about himself. We never learn why Phil's so cynical and mean or what it is about genuine emotion and friendly people that rattle him so. The love story might be a bit more believable if we saw him open up to her, but the only time he does so is when she's sleeping.
Language and Sexual Content: 1 Stars
Groundhog Day doesn't include many sexual references, but it does make a few adult jokes built on misguided stereotypes. At one point, Phil takes advantage of the time warp to convince a woman named Nancy that they went to high school together. When she and Phil end up in bed together, Phil accidentally calls her Rita. Nancy is initially offended, but is easily placated when Phil professes his love for her and asks her to be his wife. While Nancy is never meant to be taken seriously, the comedy of this scene rests on the stereotype that women don’t experience lust in the same manner as men, and that any misrepresentations or transgressions can be smoothed over with an unexpected marriage proposal.