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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 37.84%
Average: 5.41%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 25 user ratings

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Ref, The
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by Chris Parry

"Pure Denis Leary and Kevin Spacey. How can you go wrong?"
5 stars

Took me three tries to rent this video. Not that I wanted it so much. That was the point. I kept putting it back. But eventually the threat of two hours of crap was put to the back of my mind and I forked out my buck. And ain't I glad I did.

This film introduced me, nay, introduced everyone, to the reason why Denis Leary is well regarded. Nobody plays "pissed off" quite as well (well, maybe James Woods after 24 hours without caffeine, but I digress).

Then there's Kevin Spacey. At the time of release, the Space wasn't exactly a household name. In fact, I'd be surprised if his own household knew his name. But he shows enough of what we've come to adore in The Ref to have the casting agents beating a path to his door. And a few years later, voila, the man is pure A-list.

Judy Davis has to be one of the most underrated actresses in the biz. She's always excelled at dramatic roles, but she's hysterical here in the first comedic role I can recall her in.

So Leary is a burglar who's been almost caught by a sophisticated alarm system. On the run, and with the police zeroing in, he takes refuge in the house of a local family, only to discover that this family, especially at Christmas, is the family that could steamroll Iraq into submission. Spacey and Davis are borderline anger-inducing as the perpetually arguing about-to-be-divorced couple. The jokes make you laugh through gritted teeth, because while there's a lot of funny stuff going on, these people are just too good at making you hate them.

The saviour of all is Leary. He's not having a good day, and even when things go well, they get worse real fast.

This is a film that could have come across WAY wrong, or made the audience hate everyone, but the direction is handled superbly and even the most annoying family member has enough heart to stop you losing patience with the story. A definite see-someday movie.

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originally posted: 04/09/99 00:30:15
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User Comments

4/21/20 dupadoit funny 5 stars
12/05/16 Anne great satire! Yet alot of it can be real! 4 stars
2/21/06 Agent Sands A despicable sense of humor. 4 stars
1/17/05 Jeff Anderson The most realistic and funniest movie about Xmas ever made, hands down. D. LEARY'S TERRIFIC 5 stars
12/07/04 Natasha Theobald Banters with the best of them - watch if your family holidays are better attended drunk 5 stars
12/06/04 Patricia The best movie I have ever seen. I have watch it 24 times and it gets funnier each time. 5 stars
6/30/04 Bobbie Lackey I love Xmas; I loved the movie. It was hilarious! Wish I'd taped it. 5 stars
6/29/04 R.W. Welch Virginia Woolf meets Santa Claus. Inventive, but the two don't quite mesh. 3 stars
3/04/03 bullit17 The most underrated and overlooked movie ever ... EVER 5 stars
1/15/03 Birdie A real laugh out loud comedy! 5 stars
1/04/03 freewaygl brilliant exposure of white american family in peril 5 stars
9/11/02 Pat Donaghy When will it be available on DVD??? 5 stars
8/29/02 Hessian 1 side spliting laugh after another. Leary is the king of PISSED OFF. 5 stars
8/08/02 Jack Thompson the scary thing is, this is how my family christmases are... 5 stars
7/25/02 Bada Bing Crosby 'Don't eat the penis, its just garnish'..this is some good shit, Maynard 5 stars
3/02/02 Unagiboy The banter/writing between Spacey and Davis is impressive. My favorite Xmas movie ever. 5 stars
3/01/02 hum wont change like life, but very amusing 4 stars
7/03/01 Monday Morning Hollywood needs more black comedies like this. Not great but very good. 4 stars
4/23/01 Kristyn Robert Steinmiller is an amazing and brilliant actor!! And how beautiful are those eyes! 5 stars
2/13/01 Jake A wickedly funny holiday film. 4 stars
3/06/00 The Bomb 69 good stuff, a few out loud laughs 4 stars
2/17/00 Bozo laughed like hell; normallly i hate spacey but he's great here, ditto Judy & Glynis 5 stars
6/15/99 Bevan R. Clark Anything with Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary demands to be seen immediately. 4 stars
2/23/99 Cool Thing Dennis Leary is great here, but there's not a likeable character in the whole movie. 4 stars
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  02-Feb-1994 (R)


  02-Jul-1994 (M)

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