90's-vember: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

90’s-vember: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

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When I first started dating my wife there were many reasons why I knew she was a keeper, but one of the first clues was when I was shopping for my first DVD’s.  The movies I was thinking about getting were Austin Powers, The Rock and The Long Kiss Goodnight.  My future wife looked at my pile and commended me on The Long Kiss Goodnight.  The fact that I found someone else that knew how fun this critically maligned movie was, I knew I was in love. The Long Kiss Goodnight is one of those movies that most people don't understand my love for but when I think 90's it is one of the first films that come to mind.  Other people will take their ass kicking females in the form of Uma Thurman or Kate Beckinsale, but I perfer Geena Davis' Charlie Baltimore to any of the later versions.

The Long Kiss Goodnight marked the end of the Shane Black love affair after  popular screenwriter was rumored to have been paid $3 million (a record at that time) for the script.   The story revolves around a school teacher with amnesia learning that she is really a assassin/spy working for the CIA.  After a one-eyed man tries to take her out in her own home she goes with PI Mitch (Sam Jackson) to learn the truth and of course stop terrorists from blowing up the Niagra Falls area.

Such a wonderful villain.

The movie was supposed to be the big hit of the holiday season of 1996 from New Line Cinema, but unfortunately it was a financial bomb, the second in a row for director-star combo of Renny Harlin/Geena Davis. And is now only seen as a disappointment instead of one of Shane Black’s best scripts.  I am a sucker for great dialogue and this movie throws classic lines out with wildless abandon.

"See, you're assuming I won't shoot your sorry ass, and everyone knows when you make an assumption, you make an ass outta you, and umption. "


What I'm saying is, back when we first met, you were all like "Oh phooey, I burned the darn muffins." Now, you go into a bar, ten minutes later, sailors come runnin' out. What up with that?”


 Mitch- How did you find us? 

 Nathan- There may be many reasons not to kill you, but among them is not that you'll be missed by NASA. I found the address in your coat. Here. Between the address of a topless bar, and the picture of what looks like a man's penis. 

Mitch- That's a duck, not a dick.


Nathan- Alice, please. Your dog, Alice. It and my appetite are mutually exclusive. 

Alice- Well, what's wrong with the dog? 

Nathan- Simple. He's been licking his asshole for the last three straight hours. I submit to you that there is nothing there worth more than an hour's attention. I should think that whatever he is attempting to dislodge is either gone for good, or there to stay. Wouldn't you agree?


I love Sam Jackson in this film

I could go on all day with quotes from the movie but it also had other strong qualities too.  The characters all were fully realized and inhabited in this world of CIA spies and the bad guys.  The action was well shot and directed and makes you wistful for the days before fast editing and tight shots.  But the biggest surprise was  Geena Davis, she did a remarkable job creating the two personalities for her character.  Wether she was acting as the school teacher (Sam)  and the spy (Charlie) she was believable as either.  What was even more impressive is that when she she had to blend the characters she did it seamlessly.


How does this film exemplify the 90's?

  • • A character makes a reference to Baywatch Nights.
  • • The heavy sax, synth and electronic guitar score for the action scenes.
  • • The characters are all equipped with giant cell phones.
  • • The daughter at one point begs her mom to stay up to watch Rugrats.
  • • One of the characters shows up on Larry King Live.

Why makes this my pick?

I have many favorite action films from this decade because it was the time I really got into film and this genre.  I agree with Andrew’s choice of The Rock even if it is for totally different reasons (his review here) and I made a list of another 10 90’s action films here.  Yet I champion Long Kiss Goodnight because of its underdog status.  I love the film because it is my favorite Samuel L. Jackson performance.  I praise this film for its pitch perfect second act.  If I ever catch a moment of this film, no matter how busy I am or what I am doing, I will watch it until Brian Cox is out of the film.  I even care for its faults such as the third act spirals out of control and the dialogue gets worse as the action/plot intensifies.  This film might not be the showiest and most popular of the decade’s action flicks but I have had a soft spot for this film since I first saw it in the theaters 15 years ago.  Give the film a chance and you might really like what you see.  If you do fall in love with this film, you will join a small club that appreciates the movie for what it is, one of the most enjoyable action films of the 90s.

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Posted by Ryan

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