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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)


Now you probably wonder what your parents must have really been like before you came around.

Eight years ago, Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) was diagnosed with amnesia, not having any clue of where she was, how she got to where she was, who the father of her baby was, and/or just what her previous life had been life. Therefore, she chose to live on in the arms and comfort of a man, raise her child, become a suburban house-wife, and practically be all nice, kind, civilized and as pleasant as you maternally can get. However, the past that she originally knew nothing about, begins to resurface when she gets into an accident and, yet again, hits her head on the ground. This is when Samantha begins to gain flash-backs to old memories she had, as well as old tricks that she used to know begin to pop-up in everyday, normal activities that she’s been so accustomed to as of late. But now, her past has come back to get her and somehow, she finds herself stuck with a sad-sack detective named Mitch (Samuel L. Jackson) on a run for their lives. Where are they going? It’s not quite known yet, but throughout this trip, Samantha’s act begins to wear thin and sooner than later, her old persona begins to come back up in surprising, sometimes even ugly ways; that “old persona” of hers is named Charly, and she’s one bad beotch.

Once the hair-color changes, ya'll best get the hell away.

Once the hair-color changes, ya’ll best get the hell away.

The whole joke surrounding this premise is that Geena Davis’ is an amnesiac that is learning things for the first time, just as we are, and it’s a joke that writer Shane Black runs rampant with. Sometimes more so than he should, but it’s always funny to watch and see how he brings out more about this character with her present, her past and why she’s the type of character we should watch and pay attention to. Black definitely doesn’t try to take this material too seriously, and for that matter, neither should we; both Charly and Samantha are such complete, total opposites, that it’s practically a joke in and of itself that they just so happen to be two personalities that one woman juggles around with.

But it’s a joke that never gets old and for that matter, neither does the movie itself. It’s always fun to watch one of these old-school, action-comedies that try to be all hip, cool and funny, just like as if they were another Lethal Weapon or Tarantino movie. However, while most of them did fail, this movie isn’t one of them as it definitely does play-around with the idea of an ridiculous amnesiac in the middle of all this corporate espionage, car crashes, murders, crime, twists, turns and so on and so forth. In some ways, the movie may actually throw a couple of shocks your way in terms of where the plot goes, but if you’re like me, you’ll lost interest in that part of the film real quick.

Rather instead, you’ll just pay attention to the action and the winning-humor Black throws has on-display here, considering that he’s one of the very few writers out that can turn a totally violent situation, filled with all sorts of death, blood, violence, gore and fear, and somehow find a way to make us chuckle at it, and look at it in a different light, all just by throwing in a wise-crack on the side. He also has that ability to over-do that style of his sometimes, as well, but I never found that to be the case here. In fact, I’d say that when the final-act was going on, I noticed that the laughs began to go away, just as soon as the plot itself began to get uber serious and the threat of death became more and more evident. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially considering that there are some very close-calls with this movie in which a character could bite the dust at any given second, but there was the rare occasion in which I just hoped that Black would throw in a little joke or remark here or there, just to lighten things up a bit.

I mean, hell, it’s a movie for god sakes! We want fun; we want action; we want heart; and most of all, we want some humor! Anything wrong with that!?!?

But like I was saying up-top earlier, the fact that Samantha is your quintessential, boring, settled-for-nothing and peaceful suburban mother, and Charly is tough, rugged, lean and mean, ass-kicking machine, is a total joke that shouldn’t be taken seriously, or even work. However though, not only does it work through Black’s script, but it also works through the way in which Geena Davis channels-on both personalities in some very unexpected, but entertaining ways. Davis has always been a radiant screen-presence on screen, so the fact that she’s this mother and wife, living in the winter-y suburbs of PA (woo-hoo) and is absolutely lovable and pleasant, is no surprise whatsoever. We’ve seen her do that act a million times and quite frankly, she owns it. If she continued to spend the rest of her career doing that, I don’t think anybody would cause a ruckus or even object to that.

Not smart, dude.

Not smart, dude.

But when the change comes around for Davis to start shaking things up a little bit, getting nasty and violent, it’s kind of shocking really. Sure, we’ve seen Davis play a bit of a meanie-wad before in movies, but here, she really goes for full-throttle with this role. She yells, curses, smokes, drinks, screws anybody she wants, lies, cheats, steals and will kill anybody if she so damn well pleases. If it weren’t for all of the cursing and smoking, you would have maybe been able to call her “the female Bond”, but nope, this is Charly, and she’s one gal you do not want to be on the opposite-end of a battle with. Which is strange considering that this is Geena Davis I’m still talking about here, the wholesome, loving and kind woman we always love to see show up in movies; but here, she’s a pretty bad-ass chick that can do anything she wants, no questions asked and it’s fun to watch Davis do this kind of role. It’s sort of a shame we don’t get to see her do much nowadays at all, but seeing her branch-out a bit and show her nasty side, really made you think about the type of leading-lady she actually was, and one that I wish showed her face around more.

Come back, Geena! Please! If not for me, then for all us Thelma & Louise fans out there!

As much fun as Davis may be to watch her play-around with the image we usually see her get stuck with, Samuel L. Jackson ain’t no slouch either. In fact, he actually has some wonderful moments too, playing the type of character we don’t usually see him try-out; the scared, rather wimp-ish type-of-guy that would more than likely give away his wallet and keep his trap shut during a robbery. And yes, that was a Pulp Fiction reference! Anyway, it was fun to watch Jackson here as he gives us a character that’s a bit of a coward when it comes to getting his hands dirty and taking chances, but when he actually does step-up to the plate and risk life-for-limb, you kind of have to give it to him. That, and also the fact that Jackson’s pretty dumb funny with him, giving some of the movie’s best lines, most of which can be found whenever he and Davis are on-screen together, working off of the other. Strange how you wouldn’t think, not even in a million years that these two would work wonders together, but somehow, they do and it’s what makes this movie just a tad bit better and easier to consume.

Consensus: Won’t be the most memorable action-comedy you’ve ever seen, but for nearly two-hours, The Long Kiss Goodnight will be well-worth your time with a funny script, a playful-feel from both Shane Black and Renny Harlin and two likable performances from both Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson, who are trying out new things you may not have seen them do yet before, yet they totally succeed at.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Bitch! You best watch where you pointing that thing!!!"

“Bitch! You best watch where you pointing that thing!!!”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBJoblo

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16 responses to “The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

  1. Nostra January 9, 2014 at 7:23 am

    One of those movies that I always feel gets a lot of love. I remember liking it as well, but it has been way too long to say anything else about it ;)

  2. thomasjford January 9, 2014 at 9:02 am

    I’ve never actually seen this. Sounds like I should!

  3. Dan (Top 10 Films) January 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Haven’t seen this one for years but remember quite enjoying it. Whatever happened to Geena Davies..?

  4. keith7198 January 9, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Solid review. This is one of never caught up with. Sounds pretty decent though.

  5. jjames36 January 9, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Good review. And agreed. It’s not a moving film, but I remember it being fun.

  6. Wendell January 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Great review, Dan. This movie is definitely one of guilty pleasures. It’s so fun, how could it not be?

  7. Dan Heaton January 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I admire the wit from Shane Black, but I also think this movie is pretty terrible. Once the action gets rolling in the last act, I lost interest completely. I’m not trying to be a grump; this type of movie is usually right up my alley. It just didn’t hold up to a re-watch when I caught it a few years ago. Still, there are some fun lines and moments, and I know it’s well-liked by a lot of people. So I’m definitely in the minority.

  8. chris2508 January 9, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Good review Dan, sounds like a good bit of entertainment.

  9. Victor De Leon January 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Great review, Dan! My wife and I LOVE this flick. Not even as a guilty pleasure, we just really dig the wit, the banter, the randomness and action. We would pop the dvd on every once in a while (I even still have my laserdisc version) and every time we watch it we have a blast. Glad to see it get some love on your page. It is probably my favorite Renny Harlin film.

  10. gloganwriter January 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Haven’t watched since it was first released. Good review!

  11. brockingmovies January 10, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Nice Review, Dan! It’s a fun action-comedy that I’ve always enjoyed. I would give it a solid 8 out of 10 because it never really gets old. I can understand your rating though. Geena Davis in her prime and she was a badass! Samuel L. Jackson had his moments as well. Every time I watch it, I think of the similarities to The Bourne Identity. It’s fun how they play the guessing game of what she was before she got amnesia. It’s funny to see how Craig Bierko has changed when you watch him in this movie and then Cinderella Man. He’s almost a completely different person. Brian Cox, David Morse, and Joseph McKenna were all great additions to the film.

  12. Evan Crean January 10, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    LOVE this film. The dialogue is friggen hilarious, especially the line about socking em in the jaw and yelling pop goes the weasel. Shane Black is one of my favorite writers in Hollywood for his vicious humor and if this movie tries to be like Lethal Weapon like you say, it’s mainly because Black wrote that as well. As much as I appreciate his work he kind of rips off his own style repeatedly. I don’t mind because he just does it so well. Glad you enjoyed this flick Dan. Great review.

  13. Mike's Cinema January 13, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    I haven’t watched this in at least a decade but I remember really liking it. Looks like I need to re-watch it, very good review.

  14. Pingback: » Movie Review – Cutthroat Island Fernby Films

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