Christmas Movie #2: The Long Kiss Goodnight

Christmas time, it’s about love, togetherness, coming home, family…and guns. My usual collection of Christmas movies all embody these traits and each in their own way. Today we discuss The Long Kiss Goodnight.

The Long Kiss Goodnight concerns a simple housewife who is recovering from amnesia; she remembers nothing beyond the past eight years and is living a good life with her daughter and boyfriend. She has made efforts to find out about her past but at this stage is scraping the bottom of the barrel, down to only the lowest of private investigators. Her world is thrown askew one night as a one eyed wild man attempts to murder her in her own home. She then embarks on a trip of self discovery and slowly begins to learn that her past was once hidden and that she may have been a super spy.

Geena Davis plays the housewife and does so well. She seems right at home as a suburban teacher giving little plausibility that she may be a badass super spy, a point made in the film even. But as the film moves on she gets serious and handles the role well, far better and more believable here than as a pirate in Cutthroat Island, a movie that I hope to never reference again. Alongside her is Samuel L. Jackson as street smart, but decidedly low rent private eye. I’m not going to pull any punches here, this is my favorite Sam Jackson movie. He tackles the role with no small amount of humor and sleazy charm, taking control of the situation only to find his role in life fading as the woman he is protecting becomes more and more dangerous. To make matters even better they are joined for a time by Brian Cox who waltzes onto screen with little effort and nearly steals the show.

The action is energetic and takes place in some great set pieces. The filmmakers took their time setting things up and convey a real sense of setting and style. They even rein in some of the action, keeping things from boiling over, and instead use stylistic measures to get things done. That is not to say this movie doesn’t go to extremes, but I would say that it is as top as you can get without going over it.

The whole film is peppered with humor, some of it very much in your face and others more subtle. It’s a fun blend, and helps give the characters a little extra depth. I wouldn’t say it ranks on my ‘most quotable’ list but it’s defiantly memorable.

Not everything is sunshine and roses, just to be fair. It does feature a small child and she is very annoying. It also contains a few pop culture references, once of which is especially glairing (“He saw something that disturbed him? Me too, it’s called Baywatch Nights, get on with it.”). There is also a few implausible moments and one of the set pieces was trimmed down to the point that it should have been culled completely.

Those are minor complaints however, and do not take away from the fact that this is a fun action film that makes good use of its Christmas time setting. It’s exciting, funny, and sadly often overlooked. It also has one of my favorite endings and so I am going to give The Long Kiss Goodnight a 5/5.

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7 thoughts on “Christmas Movie #2: The Long Kiss Goodnight

  1. The Long Kiss Goodnight is a real underrated gem. Shane Black is one my favourite screenwriters, and produces dialogue that Tarantino can only dream about. I love the scene where Samuel L Jackson is kicked out of Geena Davis’ car, and just remains laying on the road, placing a cigarette in his mouth. Priceless. 🙂

  2. I have never seen this film. I’d also never seen The Professional once upon a time. You sometimes leave me compelled to see things.

  3. Yes, Jack is a firehose of enlightenment just waiting to be guzzled. But lo! Leave not a single drop dribbling from your chin, for each morsel is indelible as it is requisite.

    But yeah. This reminds me that I’ve only got this film on VHS. And I think I actually saw it before Jack mentioned it to me years ago. So that makes me cool.

  4. Richard: That is one of the best scenes in the film, Jackson brings so much to this movie. I also love his outfits, that when Geena starts to take front stage he is relegated to wearing an outfit stolen from an old man which makes him look a bit silly. Later he wears an outfit assembled fromt he same elements, on purpose. I love it.
    Also, thanks for the comment.

    Poe: I’m glad I can influence you.

    Trod: Thats a very…uh…pornographic description of me. Also I imagine the heavens shaking at the fact that I could recommend a movie to you and you having already seen it.

  5. Quite fortuitously the movie actually came on the other night, and I happened to catch it on one of the movie channels just as it was starting.

    Decidedly good times all around. I do feel the actress’ narration in the beginning is decidedly awkward, but thankfully this doesn’t reflect in the main character at all.

    While I wasn’t bothered by the little girl as you were, I do feel she was in many points badly underutilized. She basically disappears for a good portion of the film and takes everything going on almost unbelievably well (to be more precise, it would get old if she were crying the whole time, but on the other hand she never seems compelled to ask why mommy’s hair is suddenly blond). I do actually like daughter’s motivational dialogue throwing back to the earlier part of the movie though.

  6. I’m Glad you enjoyed it.

    As for the little girl I think it’s a combination of “Mommy I hit my head” and “Don’t hit the cars!” one of which she gets glared at so that’s cool. Sure maybe she is being ‘kid like’ but in a movie such as this I think it’s acceptable to wish that the assassin DNA got passed on to her and she would react better during stress.

    But yeah, the motivation bit is good, and i like how the mother, earlier on, says “You’re tough, you’re one of the X-men.” Hell yeah.

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