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The Ref (1994)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama  |  9 March 1994 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 17,756 users  
Reviews: 115 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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The Ref (1994) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Bright ...
Gary Chasseur
Phillip Nicoll ...
John Chasseur
Ellie Raab ...
Mary Chasseur
Lt. Steve Milford
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:

9 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?


The original ending had Denis Leary being caught by the cops to show the son that a life of crime leads nowhere. However, after screening the movie to a test audience and receiving negative comments about the ending, director Ted Demme changed it. He now admits he regrets changing it. See more »


At one point while in the car after taking Lloyd and Caroline hostage, tail lights disappear behind Gus in the rear view window. See more »


Lloyd: Coffee, Mom?
Rose Chasseur: Is it real coffee? Or some Scandinavian Christmas potion?
See more »


References A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) See more »


Broken Circles
Written and Produced by Ke Grivois, Bruce Roberts & Maurice Gallegos
Performed by Ke Grivois
See more »

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User Reviews

I loved this movie!
18 August 2002 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

The 1994 film 'The Ref' is absolutely hilarious.

Denis Leary is great as Gus, a burglar who takes Lloyd Chasseur (Kevin Spacey) and Lloyd's wife Caroline (Judy Davis) hostage in their own home at Christmas, to hide himself from police. Unfortunately for Gus, this couple aren't exactly the Leave it to Beaver family. They rant and rave the whole way through the film, even though Gus is holding a gun to their head. Of course, we know Gus is would never hurt anyone but it's still funny because Lloyd and Caroline don't!

The acting is superb, and the ending is hilarious. The whole Christmas dinner scene is possibly the best in the film. Spacey and Davis sound like a real squabbling couple, and their character's son Jesse (Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.) is a teenage rebel, who causes Gus even more trouble. Not only does this film serve for side splitting laughs, but also for additional fun, because you can always point out that Lloyd and Caroline sound like you and your spouse! (Actually, no, not a good idea!)

Overall, I really loved this movie, and think it's a sadly forgotten, underrated comic gem. You won't be disappointed!

41 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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