I have never been the sappy movie type, so when it comes to Christmas you will not find me in front of the TV watching Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in “It’s a Wonderful Life” or a young Natalie Wood teaching Santa how to properly blow bubbles with bubble gum in “Miracle on 34 Street”…not that I don’t enjoy those movies…I just don’t seek them out to watch them…but, the movie I do look forward to, starting from Thanksgiving on, is “The Ref” - 1994 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110955/
Directed by Ted Demme (“Blow” “Beautiful Girls”), this film depicts the quintessential dysfunctional family as they deal with an additional guest at their Christmas Eve gathering…a cat burglar, played at his best by Denis Leary.
After Gus (Leary) kidnaps the somewhat estranged couple, Caroline and Lloyd (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey, respectively) he finds he has bitten off far more than he can chew in the Chasseurs’ when he proclaims from the backseat of their speeding SUV, “I’ve kidnapped my fucking parents.” From here on, the rapid fire one-liners and quick wit of the tight screenplay by Richard LaGravenese and Marie Weiss (“The Fisher King”, “Water for Elephants”) drives you through to a loving and lovely happy ending…sort of…the audience is still left uncertain if the son, Jesse (Robert J. Steinmiller, Jr.) is going to return the baby Jesus or blackmail his parents, either way, it’s a fun and funny romp to watch while wrapping gifts or just lounging and waiting for Santa. What really brings it all together is how many of the characters you will recognize in your own family. Everyone has at least one of these people at their Christmas table each year…for those of you who recognize more than one and on a more regular visitation; I’ll keep you in my thoughts!
This film is not for kids. It is definitely meant for mature adults who can withstand the more than frequent ‘F-bombs’, references to ‘Penis Florentine’, ‘smoking joints while listening to Al Green’ and the possible crucifixion of one’s mother-in-law. All in all, it’s just one of the funniest things I’ve ever watched and re-watch every year a minimum of six times before the big day.