A burglar takes a family hostage so he can lay low, only to end
up playing marriage counselor to a seriously dysfunctional family.
The Ref (1994)
Directed by Ted Demme
Written by Richard LaGravenese and Marie Weiss
Starring Denis Leary, Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis, Glynis Johns, Raymond J. Barry, Christine Baranski, Adam LeFevre,
Robert J. Steinmiller Jr., Richard Bright, J.K. Simmons
Christmas is the most wonderful time of year for most of us. For some, it's a time when we have to deal with family we try to avoid the rest of the year. The Ref is the ultimate worst case scenario for that situation, and it's one of the funniest Christmas comedies I've seen in years. I love a good R-rated comedy, and with rant-heavy comedian Denis Leary in the lead as a burglar trapped in a corner with the most obnoxiously argumentative couple in history, how could you go wrong?
Gus (Leary) has a problem. The house he was gonna rob set him up, and now he's wanted for burglary. He takes a couple hostage to lay low, and quickly realizes that Lloyd (Spacey) and Caroline (Davis) are fucking crazy. They have an unstable relationship mostly due to Lloyd's overbearing, rich mother (Johns), and their entire extended family is coming over for Christmas Eve. Gus improvises and poses as their marriage counselor to get through the night, which just leads to more and more disaster. The performances are stellar and the script is fire. I'm sure there was probably a lot of improvisation going on for the insults, and the final product is a great Christmas comedy that I will be adding to my yearly rotation.
I'm surprised The Ref isn't counted among the Christmas movie greats. I was laughing my ass off the entire time. It speaks to anyone with irritating relatives, which I'm pretty sure is almost all of us. Gus is an oddly likable burglar, mostly because everyone around him is certifiable and filled to the brim with emotional problems. Definitely check this one out. It's funny as hell.