The Ref is another fine example of a dark Christmas comedy, a genre well covered in this list. Starring Dennis Leary as Gus, a burglar who, while breaking into a safe in a very affluent house, is caught by a security system that ends with a rather nasty dog bite. Trying to escape the house, he hijacks a car being driven by a couple in the midst of a marriage breaking apart. The couple, Caroline and Lloyd, are played by Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis and they are convincingly disdainful toward each other. Needing an escape, Gus forces the couple to bring him into their house, which is a horrible, horrible decision. You see, Caroline and Lloyd hate each other so much that they don’t even seem to care that they are being held hostage by a criminal. Tied to chairs, they bicker and yell at one another non-stop. To make things worse, Lloyd’s family is en route for Christmas dinner, including his mother who is a cold blooded and evil woman whom Lloyd has never been able to stand up to in his life. So as not to be discovered, Gus pretends to be Caroline and Lloyd’s marriage counsellor. The bickering and yelling only get worse throughout the course of the evening and Leary finds himself becoming the marriage ref that he was pretending to be.
The Ref is directed by Ted Demme, who would later go on to direct Blow, and who sadly died in 2002 at the age of 38. He was playing basketball when he collapsed from a heart attack. It is a huge shame as he was becoming a great director like his uncle, Jonathan (director of The Silence of the Lambs). Dennis Leary and Kevin Spacey are also huge stand-outs in this film. This was before Spacey’s big break out roles in Seven and The Usual Suspects, but you saw the dark brooding character that would so greatly be present in films like American Beauty and other future roles.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love made me see: The Ice Harvest
On the second day of Christmas, my true love made me see:Scrooged
On the third day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love made me see:Batman Returns
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Rare Exports
On the sixth day of Chirstmas, my true love made me see: Eyes Wide Shut
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Gremlins
On the eight day of Christmas, my true love made me see: Bad Santa
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love made me see: The Ref