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Danny Rubin is a screenwriter whose credits include "Hear No Evil," "S.F.W.," and the cult classic "Groundhog Day," for which he received the British Academy Award for Best Screenplay and[…]

At first, the critical consensus was that “Groundhog Day” was merely “cute.” But over time it developed a mass following of viewers and critics alike.

Question: How did “Groundhog Day” become a classic film?

Dannyrn Rubin:  Well, it wasn’t an overnight success in that way.  I mean, Irn think when it first came out, generally the reviews said, “Another rncomedy by Harold Ramis.  It’s kind of cute.”  Two, two and half star rnkind of reviews.  But there were other places where people seemed to digrn it right away.  I was getting letters from Germany and from England.  Arn lot of fans in England who just thought it was an extraordinary movie rnand my feeling was I felt justified.  I was like, “Yeah, that’s what it rnwas supposed to be.”  And it was just very slowly that people realized rnthat everybody was sort of saying, “Oh, have you seen "Groundhog Day?"  Itrn was really good.”  And it was just sort of a buzz started developing rnand then little things started happening.

Like, there was a big rnBuddhist convention in San Francisco and somebody delivered a paper rnabout "Groundhog Day" and Buddhism and people realized that people were—psychologists were showing it to their patients, prescribing it and all rnkinds of different religious disciplines were embracing it and giving rnsermons and lectures and writing important papers based on the rnphilosophy of "Groundhog Day."

And Harold Ramis was also getting rnletters and notes and the two of us would compare things and say, “Wow, rnthis is really interesting.”  And then, at some point, I guess Roger rnEbert wrote, not a retraction, but a new review that sort of said, “I rnthink we should revisit this movie.  I think this is a little better rnthan I thought.”  And I know at the end of the year that it came out rnin’93, William Goldman, the screenwriter, was reflecting on movies of rnthe past year and he was the one who wrote, "I think 'Groundhog Day' is rnthe one that will be—of all of the movies that came out this year, rnit’s the one that will be remembered in 10 years,” and perhaps that gavern it some street cred or got some people thinking.

But, I don’t rnknow.  I think people just like it and a little bit at a time, it rnstarted to develop this, not exactly a following, but an awful lot of rnpeople who identified with it.

Question: What makes rnpeople identify so strongly with the movie?

Danny Rubin: rn I haven’t thought a lot about that, but everybody seems to have their rnown reason and that’s what makes it so remarkable.  Everybody seems to rnbring their own way of thinking and their own discipline to bear on the rnideas within it and would express this is absolutely describing the rnessence of Judaism.  This is the essence of Nietzsche’s philosophy.  rnThis is the essence homeopathy.  I mean, I’ve seen all of this.  I thinkrn there's something about - I think we understand how people grow and rndevelop.  Okay, I have a few answers.  I think I understand how people -rn we understand how people grow and develop in a linear time fashion.  rnHow you have an adolescence at a certain age and you start to develop rnadulthood and you start to mature.  But, I think the movie shows that itrn is the repetition of days itself which pushes us forward in our own rnmaturation as we start to encounter the same things over and over again.

Andrn so, there's an element of truth to the fact that we are repeating the rnsame day over and over again.  But, I think the biggest thing that rnaffects people is the fact that Phil is presented with the exact same rnday and the very first time he’s presented with it, it’s probably the rnworst day of his life.  And, by the end of the movie, we see that it’s rnthe exact same day but somehow this is probably the best day of his rnlife.  It’s the day he fell in love and she fell in love with him and rneverybody loves him and he was living a fulfilling life pursuing culturern and things that he loved and appreciating the day and doing good works rnand contributing to society and it makes it very clear that we are in rncontrol of our day.  We can control our future.  There's something very rnempowering about it and
"Groundhog Day," it’s almost an experiment that rnsays, "See?  Here's a guy who is having a terrible day and he’s kind of arn horrible person and just through the act of repetition and paying rnattention and remembering, he is forced to change who he is and by rnchanging who he is, he changes the life that he experiences the world rnaround him.  That, I think, is the main thing that gets people very rnexcited about the movie.

Recorded on May 12, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman