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



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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. <ndoherty@imt.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He's taken them hostage. They're driving him nuts. 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
See  »

Did You Know?


Film debut of J.K. Simmons. See more »


When Gus is in the car with Lloyd and Caroline and Lloyd runs a stop sign, Caroline is clearly not wearing a seat belt as she looks behind the car. Once the three are facing forward again, the seat belt is magically across her chest. See more »


Rose: Sounds too sweet!
Caroline: Then don't eat it!
[Throws pie down on the table]
See more »


References Happy Days (1974) See more »


Get A Life
Written and Performed by David A. Stewart
David A. Stewart courtesy of Anxious/East West Records
See more »

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User Reviews

The Ref

Judy Davis is one of the most effective and talented actresses around today. Her emotional range and realism is astonishing and compelling. I think her linking with Kevin Spacey in this movie was an inspired piece of casting that produced a riveting, engaging and downright funny piece of comedy drama, which I will always remember. I lamented in her early days that she did not always receive good parts, for example, in the dire right-wing political movie 'Who Dares Wins'. Nevertheless she dignified an abysmal script and mediocre fellow actors with a portrayal of a confused terrorist whom finally you care more about than the hero.

However, in this movie, she is the star - not because she is trying to shine, but because she is just so astoundingly effective as an actress. Her engaging mix of vulnerability and bitter disappointment forges a devastatingly simple key to keeping her in the center of focus, along with a Spacey complementary performance. 'The Ref' was one of the best comedy drama movies that I have ever seen - Judy Davis in top form. I watched it on video last night (as 'Hostile Hostages'). Thanks, Judy!

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Funniest Scene? morning_star
I wonder how many of you realize....... hnsmdvl1973
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