‘Groundhog Day’ Is Suspiciously Similar To Another Movie
Lately, we've seen a real boom in time loop-based movies; there was Palm Springs and Boss Level, and even the characters in Army of the Dead may secretly be stuck in some kind of temporal anomaly, apparently. The key source of inspiration for all of these movies, and others like Edge of Tomorrow and Happy Death Day, is clearly Groundhog Day, the classic 1993 comedy that's easily the best of Bill Murray's groundhog-based filmography. But despite its iconic status, it turns out that Groundhog Day shares a lot in common with an earlier film …
Based on a 1973 short story, the 24-minute film 12:01 is much like Groundhog Day but with Kurtwood Smith, AKA Red Foreman, and Clarence Boddicker. Both movies are about middle-aged dudes who inexplicably find themselves caught repeating the same day over and over again. It's not just the sci-fi concept; both loops begin with a trip to a public park.
Where there's a woman he's into but doesn't know that well yet still ultimately confides in.
In both stories, the protagonist learns not to be such an asshole, as illustrated by the fact that he helps a homeless man he'd previously ignored.
And both of them try to escape the time loop by committing suicide -- and in both cases, it's ultimately futile and ends up simply resetting the time loop.
Of course, there are differences too; the biggest being that, while Groundhog Day gives no explanation for this supernatural phenomenon (in the finished version at least) in 12:01, it's literally front-page news for some reason.
12:01 wasn't some obscure student film, it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short film in 1991, just a few years before Groundhog Day was released, so it's hard not to imagine that it must have been a source of inspiration. One person who took issue with the similarities was the author of the original short story, Richard Lupoff, who claimed that he and the director were outraged over an unnamed "major theatrical film in 1993" (wink, wink) and attempted to sue the studio, but ultimately stopped pursuing litigation after "half a year of lawyers' conferences and emotional stress."
Weirdly, in '93, the same year as Groundhog Day, there was a loose feature-length TV movie adaptation of 12:01 featuring the legendary Martin Landau and the less-legendary Jonathan Silverman and Jeremy Piven.
Somehow it didn’t dominate the zeitgeist in the same way.
Top Image: Columbia Pictures