Thursday was Groundhog Day, and if you didn’t know it from the news making a big deal about a big rodent that wasn’t infecting dog food from China, you definitely couldn’t miss the repeated showings of the deservedly famous movie starring Bill Murray. Which makes you wonder if the people at the TV station actually watched the movie.
Havent seen the movie in a while? Watch Groundhog Day on Demand and refresh your memory.
However, it’s not Bill Murray’s superb acting job that we’re going to talk about. It’s a man named Danny Rubin. You may not recognize him, but you should. He wrote Groundhog Day. And after watching the movie (several times) this past week, I started to really get into the plot a little more than normal, and a lot more than is normally healthy. And my conclusions are such: Danny Rubin is either a misunderstood genius or a lucky idiot.
A quick look at the Wikipedia page for Danny shows that’s he’s famous for one thing: Groundhog Day. He does have two degrees and two kids, and that’s about it. Seriously. He lectures about screenwriting. which from his exhaustive resume of three movies, pretty much guarantees that he makes a career off talking about that one movie he did that one time with his buddies.
So now that we’ve analyzed his life a little, why does that make him special? Life is full of people who make it big for 15 minutes and then fade into the distance.
The special thing about Danny is, he wrote a movie that for the first time ever made me wish it had been based on a book. Many movies are based on books, but not this one. I was devastated to learn there is no book for Groundhog Day. But hey, lot’s of great movies aren’t based on books. Then I thought about it, and the more I thought, the more bewildered I got. How is it that this movie is 18 years old and there’s still no book based off it?
Plenty of Potential
The story of Groundhog Day has more potential than the movie is able to show, presumably because of “running times” which is Hollywood speak for “people get bored if it’s much longer than this.” This movie is the story of a man who is doomed to repeat the same day over and over again until he becomes a better person. And it’s not like this is going to happen overnight. He lives the exact same February 2nd for years of real time. This repetition has it’s effect on him. You can watch this progress in the movie, and indeed, some of the funniest moments are when he is suicidal.
But what it doesn’t show are the years of his insanity that led to those suicidal thoughts. No matter how crazy Phil got in the movie, there were other days were Phil was much, much worse that happened off the camera. Here was a man who was living exactly the same thing every day. How long could you really stand to do that?
A Slow Descent into Madness
After you’ve exhausted everything there is to do, knew every single person in Puxatony in enough detail that you could write a biography of each, and still every time you woke it was February 2nd, what could you do? It would drive you mad! It’s only natural that in this most desperate of desperate hours that Phil would not only contemplate the dreadful action of suicide, but take part in it with some sort of maniacal glee. Only to find that this, life’s one sure way to stop all your pains and worries permanently, even this has been denied him.
This higher power that is forcing him to repeat the same second rate holiday repeatedly said “No! You WILL learn you’re lesson!” Not even a “…or die trying!” Nope, just you WILL learn your lesson! And of course, if this higher power is so determined to make Phil learn his lesson that he can’t even be killed until he does, then isn’t that kind of verification that Phil is in fact more important than everyone else, thereby validating his narcissism?
> Watch Groundhog Day on Demand
I want to see these moments. I want to see Phils slow descent into madness. I want to see him realize he can’t escape madness by even death, so he must embrace the crazy on a level unlike any other in human history and go so far into insanity that he pushes right back through to sane. This is what I want. I want the full story. The movie was a great high-light reel, but now I want the meat and potatoes.
But there aren’t any. Why Danny Rubin hasn’t explored these ideas in a novel is beyond me. He could write a fascinating portrayal of a man pushed past any reasonable or unreasonable limit ever imagined, his mental shatter, and the slow rebuilding process of making himself a better person than he was when he started. The worst part is, most of the story is already there! All he has to do is fill in the fleshy parts!
What Happened, Danny?
So I’m forced to conclude one of two possibilities. One, he actually has written this masterpiece, and no one else can see how fantastic a story this would be other than some hack writer on a movie blog. Or two, he just got really lucky with some plot ideas and is unable to formulate a prosaic glimpse into the jaws, throat and rectal opening of insanity. Certainly I hope it’s the hack writer excuse, and if it is, Please, Mr. Rubin, send me your book, I promise I’ll love it. Sadly, I’m afraid it’s not to be.
Now some of you may feel I’m giving Danny Rubin a hard time for no reason. Maybe the genius bits were from Harold Ramis. Granted, it says he “co-wrote” the movie with Harold Ramis, but Danny seems to be content with billing himself as the screenwriter here. His website is howtowritegroundhogday.com. That’s also the name of his book. So no, I lay the blame squarely at his feet. If he wants the credit, so too shall he accept the blame for not having turned this amazing movie into an even more amazing book.
Cant Get Enough of Bill Murray?
Here are some of our favorites from Mr. Murray, available On Demand!