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Movies Like Groundhog Day You Need To Watch

Since its release in 1994, director Harold Ramis' "Groundhog Day" has become a bona fide classic, an endlessly watchable piece of entertainment featuring one of Bill Murray's most iconic performances. Intriguingly, while the time loop element of the film which sees Phil Connors (Murray) repeating the same day over and over is certainly unique, the idea of a cynical person who discovers their soul via magical circumstances has featured in a number of films dating all the way back to 1938's "A Christmas Carol."  

As such, we started thinking about our favorite "transformative" movies that matched the breezy, warm-hearted tone of "Groundhog Day," offering equal doses of laughs and heart. These films also contain unique elements — magical or otherwise — that serve as the launching point for a character's gradual change into a better version of themselves. Without further ado, here are 12 movies like "Groundhog Day" we think you should check out, listed in no particular order.

Scrooged (1988)

We mentioned "A Christmas Carol" in our intro to this piece and thus felt obliged to include Richard Donner's "Scrooged," one of the more popular adaptations of Charles Dickens' immortal classic to date. Bill Murray stars as cynical and selfish television executive Frank Cross, who oversees such productions as "The Night the Reindeer Died" in which Lee Majors teams up with Santa Claus to battle terrorists. After seemingly reaching the apex of his cruelty — he suggests stapling antlers on the heads of mice to keep them from falling off — Frank is visited by three spirits who attempt to change his heart by exploring his past, present, and future. 

"Scrooged" is certainly darker than "Groundhog Day," and more adult than most iterations of Dickens' story, but the film still offers plenty of laughs, particularly during Carol Kane's bit as the Ghost of Christmas Present, as it builds towards an appropriately warm-hearted climax that sees Frank embrace his long lost love (Karen Allen) and discover the true spirit of Christmas.  

What Women Want (2000)

Mel Gibson stars in this lighthearted comedy from Nancy Meyers that follows chauvinistic advertising executive Nick Marshall, whose life is turned upside down when he develops the ability to hear women's thoughts. Nick initially uses his powers for selfish gain — he steals ideas from rival co-worker Darcy Maguire (Helen Hunt), and masters his bedroom technique by honing in on former love interest Marisa Tomei's inward desires — but eventually comes to understand and even empathize with the opposite sex. Nick rekindles his relationship with his daughter Alex (Ashley Johnson), strikes up a romantic relationship with Darcy, and even gains an affinity for rice cakes and episodes of Oprah Winfrey.  

Meyers and writers Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa, and Diane Drake unveil a majority of their best gags early in the film before resorting to hokey sentiment in a predictable third act that tacks on a silly subplot revolving around a despondent copy girl (Judy Greer). No matter, "What Women Want" has a breezy tone, light humor, and sharp performances that make for an enjoyable, often hilarious night at the movies.

Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

John Patrick Shanley's "Joe Versus the Volcano" is one of those films you either love with a passion or dismiss as nonsense. We reside in the former category and can't get enough of this magical adventure in which Tom Hanks' forlorn Joe Banks embarks on an odyssey to save an island from an erupting volcano. It follows an average Joe who learns he will die from a terminal disease called a "brain cloud," prompting an eccentric billionaire (Lloyd Bridges) to make him an offer he can't refuse: He will pay Joe to jump into a volcano in order to spare the island from destruction and preserve a mineral needed for business purposes. 

Joe accepts the proposal and sets out on a grand voyage that sees him encounter three iterations of Meg Ryan, hammerhead sharks, typhoons, and a remote civilization with a peculiar love of orange soda. Through it all, Joe transforms from a demoralized individual into a man who genuinely appreciates his life. The scene in which he prays to God in front of a rising moon amidst Georges Delerue's majestic score is one for the ages.

As Good as It Gets (1997)

While not necessarily a magical adventure in the literal sense, James L. Brooks' Academy Award-winning "As Good as It Gets" follows the "Groundhog Day" formula by thrusting Jack Nicholson's cantankerous germaphobe Melvin Udall into a transformative journey guided largely by the power of friendship. Well, that and puppy love.

No, really. Melvin's sudden change occurs after the old coot bonds with an adorable dog, which in turn leads to his helping downtrodden waitress Carol (Helen Hunt) and demoralized artist neighbor Simon (Greg Kinnear). Eventually, the trio embarks on a road trip in an effort to support Simon, who needs cash from his estranged parents to aid his recovery following a violent incident that leaves him broke. While the plot morphs into an atypical love story between Melvin and Carol, the colorful characters, wonderful performances, and sharp writing is enough to make "As Good as It Gets" more than worth your time.

Liar Liar (1997)

Jim Carrey stars in this 1997 comedy about self-absorbed lawyer Fletcher Reede, who is forced to tell the truth after a birthday wish from his son renders him incapable of lying. The results are often hilarious, with the actor delivering a manic performance that gets zanier as the film progresses. The rubber-faced star displays impressive comic timing throughout, notably during a courtroom scene where he can't help but interrupt — "Objection, your honor! Because it's devastating to my case!" — or an insane bit in which he attempts to lie by describing a blue pen as red with disastrous consequences. Oh, and there's a sequence in a bathroom where he literally kicks his own butt.

Despite the wild shenanigans, director Tom Shadyac still manages to tell a heartwarming story about an absentee father who grows to appreciate his family. There's a bittersweet moment when Fletcher, still forced to tell the truth, accidentally shouts, "I'm a bad father," a moment of revelation that genuinely knocks his soul out of orbit. From that point on, he decides to make amends for his past mistakes and ends up proving his love by chasing his son's plane down a runway. It's a funny but surprisingly poignant ending for such a riotous comedy.

50 First Dates (2004)

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore have teamed up on several occasions in films like "The Wedding Singer" and "Blended," but their most memorable collaboration came in 2004's "50 First Dates," a high concept comedy from director Peter Segal. Sandler stars as Henry, a (what else?) playboy who spends his days on Oahu dating beautiful women, working at a Sea World-style aquarium, and piloting his boat around the Hawaiian islands. His life takes a turn when he meets plucky blond Lucy (Barrymore), who he instantly connects with after one date. 

Unfortunately, Lucy suffers from short-term memory loss and instantly forgets Henry the moment she falls asleep. Determined to be with his one true love, Henry attempts to woo her over and over again in the hopes he can somehow break the spell. While laughs are aplenty thanks to a great supporting cast that also includes Rob Schneider and Sean Astin, the film's greatest strength is that it actually cares about Henry and Lucy's plight. The short-term memory loss angle is certainly played for comedy on occasion, but Segal and writer George Wing aren't afraid to lean into the drama, an aspect that elevates "50 First Dates" above the typical Sandler fare.

Bruce Almighty (2003)

"Bruce Almighty" is basically "Liar Liar 2.0," but the film still works thanks to Jim Carrey's strong performance and the divine casting of Morgan Freeman as the almighty God. Re-teaming with "Liar Liar" director Tom Shadyac, Carrey stars as Bruce Nolan, a weather reporter with lofty career aspirations who suddenly finds himself entrusted with the powers of the universe. God heard Bruce whining about losing out on a promotion, you see, and decides to give the man a chance to prove he's more capable at running the world than he is. As such, Bruce can walk on water, answer prayers, reenact the Red Sea sequence from "The Ten Commandments" in his bowl of soup, and launch his career into overdrive.

Unfortunately, with God's power comes God-like responsibility as Bruce discovers when his selfish decisions lead to more problems than he can handle. Co-starring Jennifer Aniston and a very young Steve Carell (who would reprise his character in the spin-off "Evan Almighty"), "Bruce Almighty" is a charming comedy with plenty of heart and good-natured laughs the entire family should enjoy.

Dave (1993)

Ivan Reitman's "Dave" features Kevin Kline as mild-mannered Dave Kovic, a typical man who just so happens to possess a very unique feature: he looks exactly like the President of the United States. When the real POTUS suffers a stroke, conniving members of his cabinet enlist Dave to act in his stead and the genial fellow finds himself neck-deep in the complicated world of politics. Except, where the real President had long turned corrupt, much to the chagrin of his wife (Sigourney Weaver), Dave's kindheartedness positively affects those around him, resulting in a wistful comedy about hope, love, and kindness.

Co-starring Frank Langella, Charles Grodin, Kevin Dunn, and Ving Rhames, "Dave" is one of those rare comedies that seem to improve with age. With its heart firmly set on its sleeve, this Capra-esque tale is as magical as it is hilarious, a brilliant film brimming with strong performances from all involved and oozing with a compassionate message our current political leaders would do well to heed.

L.A. Story (1991)

Steve Martin stars in this whimsical dramedy about a weatherman named Harris, whose life takes a turn when he's prompted by a magical freeway sign to change his life and pursue Sara (Victoria Tennant), the woman of his dreams. Problem is, he's currently seeing SanDeE (Sarah Jessica Parker), a flighty young woman who lives by the seat of her pants, while Sara is attempting to reconcile with her ex-husband (Richard E. Grant). 

Martin, who also scripted, brings his legendary wit to the proceedings, resulting in a breezy comedy packed with sly humor — "She's not young. She'll be 27 in four years." — and surprising depth: "Why is it that we don't always recognize the moment when love begins but we always know when it ends?" What's more, "L.A. Story" serves as a love letter to its titular city. From its seedy, crime-filled streets, jam-packed freeways, and self-absorbed citizens, to its gorgeous vistas, lavish restaurants and eccentric celebrities, the City of Angels as seen through Martin's eyes is as shallow as it is magical.    

About Time (2013)

In "About Time," Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) learns he can travel through time via a special power passed down from his father (Bill Nighy). Except, this particular form of time travel can only be used to affect moments in Tim's life. So, while he can't go back to the mid-1940s and alter history, he can return to a bad breakup and change his approach to the situation. In true "Groundhog Day" fashion, he can relive a date over and over again until he reaches the desired outcome, or travel back decades earlier to spend a day with his father at the beach. 

In each instance, his meddling results in minor changes to the universe. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. At one point, after attempting to help fix his sister's problematic life, Tim returns back to the present and discovers his daughter was never born and that he now has a son instead. There's a terrific scene in which Tim visits his deceased father in the past and reveals he can never see him again due to his decision to have another child. Doing so would erase the child's existence. As such, the two leap back further in time to enjoy one last day at the beach as father and son, an emotional scene only Richard Curtis could conjure. "About Time" is a powerful movie bursting with comedy, depth, and heart. Bring a big box of tissues to this one.

Palm Springs (2020)

"Palm Springs" follows Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti), two strangers stuck in a perpetual time loop that leaves them reliving a wedding reception over and over again. At first, the pair enjoy the infinite possibilities of their seeming immortality and the natural romance that follows. They crash planes, lounge about in pools, dance in biker clubs, and continually wreck Sarah's sister's reception. However, before too long Sarah longs for her old life and takes steps to free her and Nyles' souls from their prison.

Intriguingly, "Palm Springs" greatest tactic is positing the events of the story from Sarah's perspective. As it turns out, Nyles has been stuck in the same loop by himself for a long time, which means Sarah's first night with him was definitely not his first night with her. Put it this way: Imagine if Nancy Taylor, the woman Bill Murray seduces in "Groundhog Day," was suddenly thrust into the time loop with Phil Connors. Yeah, it's kinda like that. Co-starring J.K. Simmons, "Palm Springs" may not be the most original film on this list, but it's certainly one of the more engaging thanks to its winning performances, witty dialogue, and unique approach to its central conceit.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

In "Stranger Than Fiction," Will Ferrell stars as IRS auditor Harold Crick who begins to hear the voice of author Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) in his head. Whether the man is brushing his teeth at home or pouring over documents at work, Karen's voice supplies narration to his dull, uninteresting life. As it turns out, Harold is the main protagonist of Karen's latest book, a story that sees him die at the end. Thus, he must find the author and change his fate before it's too late.

Directed by Marc Forster, "Stranger Than Fiction" uses its clever concept as a means to spin a wondrous tale about life, love, and redemption. Harold was broken, you see? A man sleepwalking through life with no purpose. When he endures the wrath of free-spirited baker Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the "tax man" doesn't care enough to react to her insults. However, as his investigations into the literal story of his life reveal greater details — he might be living a comedy or a drama — Harold retakes control of his flaccid existence and learns to appreciate the world around him. More quirky fantasy than outright comedy, "Stranger Than Fiction" has enough depth to tickle your brain, and enough warmth to touch your heart.