Geena Davis is kicking ass and taking names…even though she can’t remember her own… That’s right Christmas movie enthusiasts, today we’re revisiting that underrated classic, The Long Kiss Goodnight!
This is probably not the first film that comes to mind when you’re meditating on fine celluloid examples of festive cheer, but it is one of my all-time favourites, at any time of the year and, Christmas themes aside, is an amazing example of female heroines kicking butt and saving the day.
In this gem, we find Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) living the domestic life (knitted Christmas sweaters and all), being a mum and suffering from amnesia. She doesn’t remember much about how her life used to be, but she knows she’s happy in the present, having all those things which gender stereotypes tell us should make us happy if we’re women in our mid-thirties. After participating in the local community Christmas parade (as a very sexy Mrs. Clause) however, Samantha, is spotted by one of her old friends, who remembers her for who she really is – Charlie Baltimore – assassin and spy. This dude just happens to be serving hard time and missing an eye due to one of their past run-ins, so as one might imagine, he’s pretty pissed that she’s out there living the domestic life, having a new chance to be happy and all, while he is wallowing away in maximum security.
Once Samantha/Charlie is rediscovered by this one-eye’d chap, it doesn’t take long before a slew of other bad guys are also wanting to track her down, not to share an eggnog, but to discuss past wrongs violently committed against them. Suddenly, Samantha is getting attacked in her home and having mental flash backs of her previous life (the flashbacks are actually the result of a new head injury, suffered in a car accident, which takes place after a Christmas Party that includes knitted sweaters and egg-nog)… anyway… suffice to say, shit is getting real…
Enter Mitch (Samuel L. Jackson), the bungling private eye who just happens to unearth Samantha Caine’s past identity, or part thereof, at about the same time. In an effort to fill in the blanks, Samantha and Mitch take a cross country road trip to try and decipher a bunch of clues and put together some form of chronological history. Along the way, they discover not only that Samantha is some kind of deadly killing machine, but also that Mitch is not a Mormon, that he’s got a genuine talent for making up funny ditties and that he does a surprisingly good impression of a Holiday Inn employee.
This is not just a movie about confronting the past and making amends with qualities within yourself that you may not particularly like either, it’s about adventure and pushing yourself past the fears that might be holding you back. It also addresses the benefit of developing such helpful life skills as knife throwing, torture survival techniques, concealing a handgun on your person and jumping out of a third floor window and surviving. On top of all this, it’s Christmas themed – so you just can’t go wrong!
I love Geena Davis as the lead, she is strong and fearless, but unafraid to play the character in way that makes it difficult at times to like her. Her Charlie Baltimore is a woman with a laundry list of problems (emotionally and spiritually), while Samantha Caine is the cookie baking mommy that we all wish we had. Davis is a master at getting both of these sides across and the way that past and present personalities interact is also one of the most entertaining parts of the film. Samuel L. Jackson is also (unsurprisingly) a high point of the plot, providing comic relief and a bit of bad-ass shooting too. I love him as the down and out Mitch, at no point does he try to step up and save the day – he knows he’s out of his depth compared to Charlie, but he’s more than happy to come along as the sidekick and, unlike other actors who might try and steal the thunder of a female lead, Jackson slots in perfectly to his support role, providing a loveable character that you can’t help but root for, usually at a time when you’re not sure if Charlie/Samantha is actually likeable.
Favourite quote: ‘That’s a duck, not a dick…’
Favourite scene: The water torture scene – which teaches us many things about surviving submersion in sub-zero temperatures
Life Lesson: ‘Engaged’ doesn’t always mean you’re intending to get married.
‘Life is pain, you just get used to it.’ #truth
If you’ve never seen this movie before then drop everything you’re doing and go and get a copy now! I don’t even care how you get it – just go get it! Your Christmas cheer depends on it, I swear.
If you haven’t seen this in a while, now is a cracking time to give it another look over. It’s so refreshing to see a lady kicking ass and saving the day and look, it breaks up the countdown nicely, cause next week we’re going to be back to the blokes, looking at another of my favourite Christmas kill-a-thons.
Tis the seasons readers, off you go…