Fun Holiday Comedy – THE REF
THE REF is an altogether different type of feel-good Christmas treat.
Well before Kevin Spacey’s star-making turn as Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects, there were glimpses of his genius in several films: Swimming with the Sharks, Glengary Glenn Ross, and in this 1994 comedy directed by the late Ted Demme, where he’s matched against the equally brilliant Judy Davis (Barton Fink, Husbands and Wives, The New Age). Featuring Dennis Leary as a down on his luck cat burglar who through an unfortunate series of events is stranded in a small but affluent Connecticut town with the two worst hostages in the history of kidnappings: an unhappy couple whose bickering reaches near-radioactive levels (see the clip above for a glimpse). Forced to hole up with the couple in their home on Christmas Eve, Leary’s night is further complicated by the impending arrival of the couple’s dysfunctional extended family, including the wonderful Christine Baranski as the sister in law and Glynis Johns as the overbearing and manipulative mother. It’s amazing to watch Davis and Spacey bite into such a wonderful script (by Richard LaGravenesse and Marie Weiss) that plays like a comedic companion to their best dramatic work. Leary is also surprisingly good, given this is his first major role, and he handles the slow shift from kidnapper to eventual therapist with ease. It’s a fun holiday movie that avoids sentimentality, and despite being cynical and full of expletives it ultimately proves an emotionally engaging, cathartic, and incredibly gratifying experience. Check it out!