Denis Leary plays an unfortunate cat burglar, who is abandonded by his partner in the middle of a heist and is forced to take an irritating Connecticut couple (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) hostage. He soon finds that he got more than he bargained for when the couple's blackmailing son and despicable in-laws step into the picture. Before long they're driving him nuts with their petty bickering and family problems. The only way for him to survive is to be their referee and resolve their differences before he can be nabbed by the police.
Title: The Ref
Release: March 9, 1994
Genre: Christmas Comedy
MPAA Rating: R
Writer: Marie Weiss & Richard LaGravenese
Director: Ted Demme
Music By: David A. Stewart
Produced By: Ronald M. Bozman, Jerry Bruckheimer, & Jeffrey Weiss
Distributed By: Touchstone Pictures
Run Time: 93 minutes
The Ref aka Hostile Hostages, isn't a traditional holiday film. It isn't meant to warm the cockles of your heart... maybe the "sub-cockle area" perhaps, but mostly it's just a vehicle for Denis Leary being his hilarious self ("Lady, your husband ain't dead. He's hiding," which he says to the Llyod's (played by Kevin Spacey) mean mother) with a bit of Christmas thrown in here and there.
Poor Gus (Denis Leary)! He kidnaps a couple (Kevin Spacey & Judy Davis) with no intentions of harming them just to realize he has kidnapped one of the most dysfunctional families in Connecticut. Many critics disliked this rough little gem saying that "too much animosity [had] been fueld [throughout the film] for everything to be tidied up in a cinematic speech or two" and though I can see how they arrived at that conclusion, I just can't concur (though the ending between Gus and the family seemed a little unrealistic to me). I've always felt like Leary pretty much became this dysfunctional couple's marriage counselor and Dr. Denis Leary (sorry, Gus as he is known in The Ref) made them work out there differences instead of yelling at each other constantly, though there is still a ton of that.
There were a few problems with the movie though such as how annoying all the extra unneeded characters are: drunk Santa, the Lieutenant that Jesse (the son who is played by Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.) blackmails, and practically everything having to do the police. I mean, did we really need to see the cops sit around and watch It’s a Wonderful Life? Still, The Ref has been one of my favorite movies to watch during the holidays for years and it will continue to be so too.
The movie script