The Ref (1994)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama  |  11 March 1994 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 17,930 users  
Reviews: 116 user | 41 critic

A cat burglar is forced to take a bickering, dysfunctional family hostage on Christmas Eve.



(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Bright ...
Phillip Nicoll ...
Ellie Raab ...
Herbie Ade ...


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, Judy Davis) hostage. He soon finds that he took 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. Written by Nick D. <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They might be his hostages but what they're doing to this guy is criminal. See more »


Comedy | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 March 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Egy híján túsz  »

Box Office


$11,000,000 (estimated)


$11,439,193 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Appeared on Entertainment Weekly's list of The 50 Best Movies You've Never Seen in the Jul 16, 2012 issue. See more »


This film takes place in Connecticut. Several characters mention a county prosecutor throughout the film. Connecticut dissolved all county-level governments in 1960 and thus, there would be no such thing as a county prosecutor. In Connecticut, counties are solely geographic entities. See more »


Gus: From now on, the only person who gets to yell is me. Why? Because I have a gun. People with guns get to do whatever they want. Married people without guns - for instance - you - DO NOT get to yell. Why? NO GUNS! No guns, no yelling. See? Simple little equation.
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Referenced in EastEnders: Episode dated 2 October 1995 (1995) See more »


Please Come Home For Christmas
Written by Gene Redd & Charles Brown
Performed by Lou Ann Barton
Courtesy of Austin Records
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User Reviews

funny as hell!
3 December 2004 | by (Great Falls, MT) – See all my reviews

My favorite line of all time is from this movie- when Lloyd tells his mother next Christmas he's going to buy her a big wooden cross, so anytime she feels unappreciated or un-loved she can climb on up there and nail herself to it! This movie is definitely on my top ten list. The acting is awesome! The timing and delivery of lines is right on! It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for those of us who love this kind of humor its a sure classic! The casting was superb! I cant see anyone else playing those parts. This is the movie that turned me onto Kevin Spacey- and he is still my favorite actor ever! This is also the funniest movie I've ever seen Denis Leary in. His brand of humor combined with Kevin Spacey's wit is the stuff dreams are made of.

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