Stuff I Watch in December: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

Happy Holidays and welcome! We are counting down the days until December 25th and, in that time, I will be reviewing each and every Christmas/holiday film I watch during the month. They’re mostly a selection of films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

Holiday Inn (1942)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
White Christmas (1954)
Santa Claus (1959)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972)
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
I Believe in Santa Claus (1984)
Lethal Weapon (1986)
Die Hard (1988)
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
Scrooged (1988)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Home Alone (1990)
Die Hard 2 (1990)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

long kiss goodnight

DIRECTOR: Renny Harlin, director of Die Hard 2: Die Harder. That film, this film, and Cliffhanger are his three best American films. After that, Harlin continued to make films but his name wasn’t as prominent thanks to his work on Cutthroat Island. Harlin did state, in an interview that The Long Kiss Goodnight was his most favorite film he made.

WHAT IS IT?: Yet another Shane Black Christmas Film, the second leg of our tour through his Christmas filmography. This film, Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Iron Man 3 are his in his Christmas Quadrilogy.

THE PLOT: Eight years ago, Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) found herself laying in a river with no memory of who she was or is with the only clue to her identity being a small, blank, unmarked key in her possession. Upon medical examination, she found out that she was two months pregnant.

In the present, Caine lives a quiet existence with her daughter Caitlin (Yvonne Zima) and her boyfriend Hal (Tom Amandes). Everything’s great until one night when, following a neighborhood Christmas party, she gets into a near-fatal car accident. The accient begins to jog her memory, something which turns into a full sprint once she’s violently attacked, seemingly out of nowhere, by a psychotic man with one eye a couple days later.

Determined, more than ever, to discover who she is, Caine hires sleazy local P.I. Mitch Hennessy (Samuel L. Jackson) to assist her on her journey. But what she finds not only threatens both their lives, it also threatens to permanently disconnect Caine from the life she’s made for herself back home.

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: It received mostly positive reviews thanks to the slam-bang action sequences and the extremely witty dialogue and banter in Shane Black’s script.

WHAT DID I THINK?: This film is very much like Lethal Weapon, featuring the same “odd couple buddy cop” formula with a twist: Caine’s a mousy small town schoolteacher and Mitch is a former cop boozing it up as a private dick because he was forced out of the force in Atlanta due to corruption charges he insists he wasn’t involved with.

Director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2 and Davis’ ex-husband) provides his audience with deft comic book-style action culminating in a fantastic finish set on a bridge between the United States and Canada where everything blows up real good to the point where you are absolutely wiped out by the time the credits roll.

But like Lethal Weapon before it, it’s Shane Black’s witty script and the chemistry between Davis and Jackson which carries this sucker and provides for some moments which make you chuckle:

CAINE: Why don’t you go away and come back at midnight, huh? Shoo!
(THUG points his gun at CAINE.)
THUG: Hey, hun…this is a big fuckin’ GUN.
(Mitch comes into the alleyway out of nowhere, cocks his gun, points it at the thug)
MITCH: This ain’t no ham on rye, pal!
CAINE: What are you doing?
MITCH: Savin’ your life! I woulda been here sooner except I was thinkin’ up that “ham on rye” line.

Heh.

Though Black is extremely liberal laying on the violence (this IS an action picture and not so much a “Christmas movie” — it just takes place DURING Christmas), between the awesome action sequences and witty verbal exchanges, The Long Kiss Goodnight is an absolute blast and it’s refreshing to see Davis as the film’s badass lead: a strong female spy who kicks ass — and who’s a mother to boot.

GRADE: B+

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