FILM

"Groundhog Day" and the Strange Phenomenon of Time Loop Movies

Since Bill Murray's 1993 classic, time loop narratives have somehow become a genre unto themselves.

Andy Samberg's record-breaking Sundance hit Palm Springs is the latest entry in the storied genre of time loop movies.

These now-familiar stories involve one or more characters becoming trapped by mysterious forces that cause them to relive the same stretch of time (usually a single day) over and over and over again. The phenomenon was made iconic by the 1993 film Groundhog Day, in which Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is a jaded TV weatherman who becomes trapped in the small town of Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania for an endless recurrence of the titular holiday.

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Late stage capitalism is a scourge that commodifies everything, including the self.

Most major companies range from questionably amoral to downright evil (we're looking at you, Walmart). Commercials are designed to manipulate us into connecting human emotions, humor, and our favorite stars with non-human entities that just want our money. As such, on the Super Bowl—the biggest day for advertising of the year—there is no shortage of blatantly emotionally manipulative and hypocritical ad spots. From the NFL creating an ad that protests police brutality (despite refusing to support Colin Kaepernick for doing that very thing) to Google making us cry despite historically using loop holes to pay taxes that could help millions of people, here is the ranking of the most manipulative, hypocritical ads from Super Bowl 2020.

5. New York Life Insurance—Love Takes Action

New York Life, an insurance company specializing in life insurance, sponsored an ad that explored four different Greek words for love: Philia, Storge, Eros, and Agape. It describes the latter as "love as an action," and then, over moving shots of families in various moments of struggle, happiness, and companionship, equates this kind of love to a life insurance policy. Emotionally manipulative, sure, but it's not a baseless claim to say that leaving behind a life insurance policy for your loved ones is an act of love.

Unfortunately, once you begin to read reviews of New York Life, it becomes clear why the company worked so hard to create an ad that presented them as caring stewards of money. Customer complaints on the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs alike outline a company that is intentionally opaque about their policies, offer little customer service, and avoid actually paying out policies by almost any means necessary. While it's impossible to know for sure to what degree these claims are true, it's certainly not a great sign that they worked so hard to create an ad spot that uses such strong pathos to erase a reputation of immorality and money grubbing.

4. Microsoft—Be The One/Katie Sowers

It's a fantastic (if overdue) step towards equality that Super Bowl 2020 included the first female and LGBTQ coach to ever appear at the Super Bowl. Katie Sowers is undoubtedly a talented and hard working individual, and it's excellent that her story is getting more exposure. But considering that Microsoft has a history of suppressing claims of sexual harassment and discrimination from female employees, the ad comes off as a disingenuous face-saving measure. Real change does not come from ads that do lip service to equality; it comes from actively working to solve issues of inequality, something Microsoft has repeatedly failed to do.

3. NFL—Inspire Change 

This one came off as so deeply hypocritical that many living rooms across America let out a collective groan when it became clear the NFL sponsored the ad. The spot is a decidedly moving look at the murder of Corey Jones, cousin of NFL player Anquan Boldin, by a plain clothes police officer. It features Corey's parents lamenting his death and a voice over from Boldin explaining the foundation he set up in Corey's honor.

All of this is moving and poignant, except for the fact that in 2018 the NFL did just about everything in its power to suppress the efforts of former player Colin Kaepernick, who famously kneeled during the National Anthem before a game to protest police brutality against black and brown bodies. As the Washington Post puts it, "The league can always be trusted to pounce on a sincere effort to raise awareness of an issue, then fine-tune and focus-group it until the corporate-friendly result barely resembles its original form."

2. Google—Loretta

This is an admittedly heart wrenching commercial. It features a voice over of an elderly man asking his Google Home to remind him of things about his wife who has apparently passed. As old pictures and footage of the couple plays across the screen, the Google Home reminds the man of moving details like, "Loretta had beautiful handwriting." It intentionally plays on our heart strings and seeks to humanize the massive company; it's an ad that positions Google as a force that wants to help people.

In reality, Google has proven over and over again how little they care for people, including their own employees. They lied to employees about the amount they would make from a contract with the Pentagon that would help create technology designed to kill enemies in war; they placed an individual with "vocally anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant" views on their AI advisory council; they secretly created a heavily censored search engine for use in China that would block all access to things the government deemed "unfavorable"; and they pushed Andy Rubin (a high level executive) out of the company in 2014 due to a inappropriate romantic relationship, but not before giving him $90 million. If that's not enough, Google has also been under heavy investigation for violations of antitrust laws, constantly use tax loopholes to get out of paying into the communities in which they operate, and have even been repeatedly accused of manipulating search results to spread inaccurate and biased information.

1. Walmart—United Towns

This Walmart ad is such blatant propaganda that it's frankly insulting to any well-informed American. The commercial paints Walmart as a kind of missionary initiative, saying they "see America from the ground" and implying that the presence of Walmarts in small towns across America is some kind of unifying force for good. But Walmart is anything but a force for good in small town America; it has been firmly proven that Walmart's business model is to go into small towns, offer such low prices that they ultimately run all of the small, independent businesses in the town out of business, and then to jack up prices once people have no alternative but to shop at Walmart. In fact, Iowa State University professor Dr. Kenneth E. Stone found that some small towns lose up to 47% of their retail trade after ten years of living with a Walmart store nearby. If that's not enough, Walmart might choose to relocate its store to another location, but the impact of its initial arrival continues to last well afterward, leaving the citizens of a small town with almost no options for groceries, pharmacies, and other necessities.

CULTURE

PETA Thinks We Should Live in a Real-Life Chuck E. Cheese Hell

PETA's president wrote a letter proposing that Punxsutawney Phil be replaced with an artificial intelligence groundhog.

For over a century, residents of a certain Philadelphia town have relied on a groundhog for the year's most crucial weather prediction.

Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his tree stump home each February 2 with a single mission to determine winter's end. If he "sees his shadow," as the legend goes, six more weeks of winter are due. If no shadow is spotted, then spring is imminent.

But PETA has some thoughts about this antiquated tradition, as expressed in their letter sent to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club this week. In it, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk argues that it's time for Phil to retire—and be replaced with a robot groundhog.

"As a prey species, groundhogs actively avoid humans," Newkirk writes. "When Phil is dragged out of his hole and held up to flashing lights and crowds, he has no idea what's happening."

PETA's solution? Replace Punxsutawney Phil with artificial intelligence, of course. Newkirk continues: "Using technologically advanced electromechanical devices such as animatronics instead of live animals is more popular than ever. We even have the technology to create an animatronic groundhog with artificial intelligence (AI) that could actually predict the weather. An AI Phil would renew interest in Punxsutawney, generating a great deal of buzz."

While replacing Phil with a robot sounds like it might too closely approximate a nightmarish Chuck E. Cheese scenario, Newkirk has a good point: How does that lil' fella even predict the weather, anyway? Maybe an animatronic isn't such a bad idea. But also considering the fact that Phil lives a pretty nice life when he's off duty, PETA is probably—per usual—blowing the situation out of proportion. The guy only works one day a year, anyway.

FILM

Is Andy Samberg Trolling Sundance with His $0.69 Record?

Samberg and his Lonely Island collaborators negotiated for a deal that was $0.69 over the previous Sundance Film Festival record.

Palm Springs is the new time loop movie from Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island crew, and it has officially broken the record for sales at The Sundance Film Festival.

Meanwhile, the Lonely Island crew, along with Andy Samberg, have a new time loop movie called Palm Springs, which is at the Sundance Film Festival and has officially broken the record for sales. Additionally, the official Sundance Film Festival sales record has been broken by Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island crew, who have teamed up for their new time loop movie, Palm Springs.

Get it? In the spirit of 1993's Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, and Happy Death Day, Palm Springs tells the story of Nyles and Sarah, guests at a wedding in Palm Springs, California who become trapped together in an endless recurrence of one day and have to figure out how to escape—or at least how to live with each other through a repetitive eternity (hmm…almost sounds like a metaphor for something…something wedding related…hmm…) The movie premiered on Sunday at the Park City's Library Theater, and despite its familiar premise, the charm and humor that Andy Samberg and his longtime Lonely Island collaborators bring to their projects was enough to win over audiences. It was also apparently enough to excite Hulu and independent movie distributor Neon to purchase the global distribution rights for just over the previous record of $17.5 million. How much over? Exactly $0.69…

dick in a box SNL

It's hard to imagine that figure being anything other than a deliberate and childish choice by Samberg and his fellow producers Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Becky Sloviter. Previous rumors that the movie had sold for around $15 million had been disputed, but the exact figure was a good way to get some extra buzz for the movie and land some adolescent humor in the headlines. It's very on-brand for the creators of "Dick in a Box", and "J*zz in My Pants," but it might be in poor taste considering the previous record holder—the movie whose $17.5 million price tag Palm Springs barely overtook—was 2016's gut-wrenching slave revolt narrative The Birth of a Nation. Oh well…

Look for Palm Springs, starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Miloti, and J.K. Simmons in theaters later this year.

CULTURE

What Secrets Does Bill Murray Know About the ATL P.F. Chang's?

That It's the Illuminati Headquarters, Duh

Scrooged

Why does Bill Murray want to work at the P.F. Chang's in the Atlanta Airport?

In his recent appearance on Amy Schumer's podcast 3 Girls 1 Keith, Murray expressed his admiration for that specific branch of the "Chinese" restaurant chain, remarking that it's "one of the great places."

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Anyone who's eaten at a P.F. Chang's can see the issue with this statement, and if you never have, you can simulate the experience at home with their range of microwaveable frozen meals. At best, it's an underwhelming pastiche of east Asian cuisine. At worst, it's an underpaid service job in the world's busiest airport. Is Bill Murray just being his wacky, random self, inserting himself into random contexts to the surprise and delight of strangers? Or maybe you think he was making some ironic commentary on the hellish existence of corporate service employment. No, no, and wrong. Bill Murray knows something that we don't about Concourse A of the Atlanta Airport.

Think about it. For decades, conspiracy theories have swirled around the Denver International Airport, which is supposedly a hub for the elite secret society known as The Illuminati. But why would this secretive organization make their home so obvious? One of the DIA's most notable landmarks is a 30-foot demonic horse that killed its creator. That is just way too on the nose. The only reason to mark your secret evil lair with such an ostentatious sign of evilness is if that's not your real evil hangout spot at all.

Thrillist

The DIA is just the distraction to keep us from looking too closely at the real evil airport. Bill Murray has given us the key. He didn't say that the P.F. Chang's there is a great place. He said it's "One of the Great Places." It's time to go full-on Jeff Goldblum-in-Independence Day and crack this conspiracy wide open.

The Symbol of Change Getty Images/iStockphoto

First, the evidence: Coca-Cola and CNN. I dare you to think of two organizations more aligned with elite global power than those. And where are they headquartered? New York? LA? Denver? No. They're both in Atlanta! We've already covered that Atlanta's airport is the busiest in the entire world, with more than 50 million travelers passing through each year. How else would you hide the dark, illicit activity of the Illuminati headquarters, if not through a constant flurry of human activity? ATL is also the hub for Delta Airlines—a famously evil company—and Delta is the triangular Greek symbol for change, as in: "the Illuminati uses the Delta Sky Club in Concourse A of the Atlanta Airport as the control center for changing the course of global events."

Next, Bill Murray. He does whatever he wants at all times and seems to be fully immune to cancellation. He's done some genuinely terrible stuff, yet the whole world loves to fawn over him. Is all that adulation just good will left over from Caddy Shack and other movies where he attempts to murder large burrowing rodents? Impossible. The only answer is that he controls his reputation as a member of the Illuminati, with access to all the Elite Powers and Great Places that membership entails.

And finally P.F. Chang's. Other than the fact that it's not the real name of any person ever, and must therefore stand for Powerful Forces (of) Chang(e), what's suspicious about this location in particular? How about the fact that it opens at 6:30 AM? Every other location I've found is closed before 11:00 AM. Who in the world wants to eat bad fake Chinese food pre-dawn? Not even bad fake Chinese people want that. There must be another purpose!

At this point the only explanation should be obvious, but I'll spell it out so the Powers That Be know that I'm watching them: The P.F. Chang's in the Atlanta International Airport contains a secret entrance into the Illuminati's subterranean headquarters, and Bill Murray was expressing his desire to move up in the ranks and gain access to the highest levers of power. We'll have to wait and see how Beyonce and Zuckerberg and Jonathan Taylor Thomas choose to respond.

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Previewing this spring's biggest Broadway musicals

All the big shows to be aware of before your next visit

Evan Agostini- Getty Images

Both familiar and original stories are hitting the Broadway stage looking to be the next Hamilton

Even while a chunk of the country faces a burst of winter fury, it's important to remind ourselves that spring is just around the corner. One area of the country where this is particularly clear is New York's Broadway theater district, where several massive Broadway musicals are hitting the stage in time for Tony Awards consideration. Rather than risking getting overwhelmed by the options, we decided to do a run down of this spring's biggest productions.

Groundhog Day

Based on the beloved Bill Murray film of the same name, the musical tells the story of Phil Connors, a vain jerk of a weatherman whose life is turned upside down when he's forced to live out the same day over and over again. Boasting the same creative team as the acclaimed Matilda, the production comes from an acclaimed London run and carries with it a good deal of Tony hype. While we'll have to wait and see if it can make good on that buzz, don't be surprised if word of mouth turns this into a hot ticket.

Anastasia

Adapted from the 1997 animated film, the musical tells the story of the missing daughter of Tsar Nicholas II in 1920's Paris teaming up with two con men as she tries to uncover the secrets of her past. Coming from the Tony-winning writing team of Ragtime and the Tony-winning director of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, the musical certainly has the talent at its disposal to tell its grand story. Hopefully it will be able to live up to the caliber of its creative team and give fans that grew up with the movie and new first timers alike something to sweep them off their feet.

Come From Away

While not boasting the advance hype or familiarity of other shows on this list, Come From Away has earned rave reviews and seems in position to claim the title of Broadway's feel good hit of the year. Inspired by true events of a small town in Newfoundland, Canada that opened itself up to thousands of strangers whose flights were thrown into chaos after 9/11 and the unexpected community that formed. While far from conventional Broadway musical premise, this sweet, touching, and often funny musical about kindness may be the exact type of show the country needs right now.

Amélie

Based on the Oscar Nominated French film comes a new adaptation starring Phillipa Soo, the Tony nominated female lead of Hamilton. Just as the film did, the musical tells the quirky romantic story of a kind young woman seeking to help the world who ends up finding unexpected love along the way. Given both the film's acclaim and the attention Soo will have in her first role since Hamilton, the musical will have some lofty expectations, but if it can pull it off Amélie could end up being the perfect date night musical.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

What happens when a kindhearted young boy finds a golden ticket to visit an eccentric candy tycoon's chocolate factory? Well if you read Roald Dahl's book or one of it's film adaptations you may already know the answer, but starting this spring audiences will get the chance to see a whole new look at the story. Featuring new music by the song writing team responsible for Hairspray and starring two-time Tony winner Christian Borle as Wonka, the musical is poised to be the family friendly spectacle of the spring for those seeking a little pure imagination in the big city.