How many of you have seen “Groundhog Day – The Movie?” How many of you have seen it over and over again? How many of you have picked up on the myriad of meteorological and other flaws that the movie contains?
Well, my wife and I have been viewing the iconic movie for some 25 years (it was released February 12, 1993 – Fig. 01). Bill Murray (a hapless TV meteorologist), Andie McDowell (his producer) and Scooter (the groundhog) really do make some movie magic. After all, if they didn’t, why would the movie remain an annual staple?
While watching this year, however, my wife’s eagle eye flagged some potential errors in the movie, errors neither one of us had picked up on, before. Most of these were minor and could possibly be explained away by Hollywood movie-making techniques. For example, Gobbler’s Knob is not IN downtown Punxsutawney, but rather, several miles OUTSIDE. Also, the movie was filmed in Indiana because the town there was more scenic than Punxsutawney, PA. The most glaring error, however, always started the ever-repeating Groundhog Day.
As the clock radio changed to 6:00 o’clock a.m. E.S.T., and the cheerful voices of Sony and Cher graced the airways, Phil Connor awoke and raced to the window. Every day, he saw the same people walking the street below, enroute to Gobbler’s Knob. Then, after dressing, grabbing some food, meeting an incessant insurance agent (the infamous Ned Ryerson), and arriving at Gobbler’s Knob, Phil and the news team got ready to see Phil’s emergence from his “burrow.” Alas, all of the above is done in FULL DAYLIGHT. That means that sun had to rise sometime before 6:00 a.m. E.S.T. Yet, according to timeanddate.com, sunrise in Punxsutawney is at 7:25 a.m. E.S.T., with Civil Twilight beginning at 6:56 a.m. E.S.T. In short, the movie is inaccurate, but with cause. All the early morning scenes, if played in the dark, would have lost their visual effects.
This won’t be the first time that Hollywood got its science wrong. And it won’t be the last, either.
Reporting from his home away from Punxsutawney, this is H. Michael Mogil, a meteorologist with a much higher skill level than the Pennsylvania marmot and his brethren.
© 2018 H. Michael Mogil
Originally posted 2/5/18
* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.