The Ref

It's Christmas Eve in Connecticut and for the Chasseurs (Davis and Spacey), Santa arrives a few hours early in the unconventional form of cat burglar Gus (Leary), an armed desperado who takes them hostage when his get-away falls apart. This is a vindictive affair, a truly nasty-minded black comedy at the expense of your upper-middle-class dysfunctional American family. Director Ted Demme (Jonathan's nephew) never applies the scalpel where a blunt instrument will do, and the screenplay by Richard LaGravenese and Marie Weiss does become a mite repetitive. Nevertheless the film has a caustic edge and energy which keeps the laughs flowing. In his first starring role, comedian Leary makes his ranting career criminal strangely sympathetic, but he's more than matched in the vituperation stakes by Spacey, Davis, and especially Glynis Johns, as a demurely monstrous mother-in-law. Naturally, the ordeal gravitates towards gun-point group therapy, but there's bite here as well as bark.

Release details

Duration: 97 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ted Demme
Screenwriter: Richard LaGravenese, Marie Weiss
Cast: Denis Leary
Judy Davis
Kevin Spacey
Glynis Johns
Robert J Steinmiller Jr
Raymond J Barry
Christine Baranski
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