Wednesday, August 14, 2013

i want to stay an extra second in punxsutawney?

So, I think I’ve figured out what it is that gets the time loop going in Groundhog Day. But, first an aside:

Last week’s Childrens Hospital episode “The C-Word” involved a running gag in which one of the characters, Owen Maestro played by Rob Heubel, thought he was stuck in a time loop. See, this season, the cast is working in a hospital on a military base in Japan and this guy’s morning started with the bugle playing reveille and a loudspeaker announcement of the time, and then his fellow doctor, Cat Black played by Lake Bell, comes in from working the night shift, which she calls “brutal.” So, Owen goes outside and sees another doctor, Blake Downs played by Rob Cordry, jogging right into some wet cement and then into a plate of glass two guys are carrying—old timey comic bits. The next morning, reveille again, the announcement, Dr. Black coming in from the brutal night shift, then Dr. Downs jogging, but this time Owen warns him about the wet cement. Then, as Owen wanders off, believing he’s stuck in a time loop, Downs avoids a plate of glass because he wasn’t going to make that mistake two days in a row.

See, but Owen doesn’t hear this. Instead, he ends up volunteering to play trumpet at a show going on later that day assuming he’s got a lifetime to practice. But, he doesn’t.

Meanwhile, there’s some jokes about a plane full of celebrity holograms set to perform and a Bieber Fever analogue (in this case, an actual fever that shares its name with a young star), but the show is only like 11 minutes long, can’t expect an awesome resolution to the time loop storyline… after he says “after a few more months of todays, I’ll be ready for today’s big show,” he’s told he’s not in a time loop. I expected more, especially from Diablo Cody, who wrote the episode.

Speaking of Cody, she wrote Jennifer’s Body, which should have been better than it was also. And, that reminds me of the topic at hand. See, Groundhog Day’s time loop isn’t the result of a gypsy curse, though that was a possibility at one time. As for gypsy curses, aside from the inherent racism and prejudice in lumping together all “gypsies” and suggesting they are all capable of cursing the rest of us at any time—

(and it may be offensive, but not intentionally, that I am operating under the assumption I have no gypsies in my readership)

--there are still some interesting gypsy curse stories out there. I rather liked Thinner by Richard Bachman (i.e. Stephen King), and even the film version was pretty good. Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell was a bit too deliberately over-the-top for my taste, and was a fantastic example of that offensive bit I was talking about.

Anyway, there’s no spurned ex-girlfriend with her copy of 101 Curses, Spells, and Enchantments You Can Do at Home, cursing Phil Connors either, though that was in the script for a while.

Speaking of ex-girlfriends, another Diablo Cody movie that should have been better—I mean, really, it barely had any conclusion—was Young Adult. Charlize Theron as a woman who hasn’t really grown past her teenage years, emotionally. A lot like Phil Connors, in that respect. He never goes as far as she does in, say Monster though, killing people. Murder of anything but the groundhog was even too dark for Rubin’s original script. We all know that, given decades or centuries in the same town, the same day, the same people, we would have probably killed a few of them, or all of them, at least once. But, anyway, I was talking about Mavis Gary, Theron’s character in Young Adult. She thinks she can come back into town and pick up where she left off with her old boyfriend, but reality doesn’t work by that kind of solipsistic fantasizing.

Well, I guess it does, in a way, for Phil. He doesn’t have a remote control like in Funny Games or Click to be all deliberate about it. But, he has his ways, certainly. “Who was your twelfth grade English teacher?” for example. When you know the day will come again, you can plan long term.

His robbery, by the way, was more elaborate in earlier drafts. He didn’t just take a bag from the back of the armored truck but robbed the bank itself. That requires a lot more planning. I mean, watch any heist movie: Heat, Ocean’s Eleven, whatever. There’s always a lot of planning in there, or at least a good montage of preparation…

Hell, even Groundhog Day has its montage, though not about preparation. Day 10 we get one slap, but from the end of Day 11 to Day 18, we get a nice montage of slaps. And, given the production details, they were probably all filmed about the same time, and Ramis says in the commentary that Murray told MacDowell not to hold back, so I’m guessing there was some pain involved after that slapping montage…

Might we be able to argue that Groundhog Day itself IS a montage? I mean, Phil Connors is being put to a test and the filmmakers have to show us a passage of time. We’re gonna need a montage.

(montage!)

Oh, it takes a montage.

(montage!)

Show a lot of things at once… or maybe just for an hour and a half.

Anyway, the setup for the perfect date (the sequence that comes before the slapping)—isn’t that just a slowed down version of the montage? And, if I’m right about that, then isn’t the entire film just one big montage? Isn’t life?

Of course, no one is deliberately editing life… Well, some of you might think someone is, God or Atropos maybe. Or maybe you think Superboy punched the walls of reality a few times, like he did in Infinite Crisis and that’s how everything got how it is in the present. Or maybe the Doctor crashed the Pandorica into the TARDIS and this is just one possible reality that has emerged.

Where was I?

Ah, yes, I think I know what gets the time loop going in Groundhog Day. See, it isn’t a Time Lord or Superboy or ex-girlfriend Stephanie, or even God. It is this:

See, something just knocked Phil’s essence loose from one reality and let him experience a bunch of others. If he were writing this blog entry, he would have taken off on even more tangents, because there would be no way to know when the entry would end, and you’ve got to fill the space.

Even though there’s still tomorrow’s entry.

And the next day’s.

And the next.

And the next.

And the next.

And the…

And…

(Always fade out in a montage. If you fade out, it seems like more time…)

Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to fashion the single most convoluted blog entry I can, covering everything from the moon landing to Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves to diet soda and chopsticks.

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