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The Ref (1994)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama  |  9 March 1994 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 17,771 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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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


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:

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?


Denis Leary's line "Lady, your husband ain't dead. He's hiding!" is a direct quote of a line from the classic Abbott and Costello routine "Susquehanna Hat Company". 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 »


Murray: Gus?
Gus: What?
Murray: When are we gonna open presents?
Gus: Presents? Is that what you said? Presents? We'll open them when we get there. No, in fact, I'll save you the trouble. Your present is a giant fucking canon. And you're gonna crawl in it. Then I'm gonna get 2 pounds of gunpowder and I'm gonna shoot you right out of Jersey! And then I'm gonna drive to Jersey, and pick up all the parts of your body and put them in a plastic bag. Then I'm gonna drive to my house with you in the bag and toss you into the ...
See more »


Referenced in EastEnders: Episode dated 2 October 1995 (1995) 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

If this is what happens, then kidnap me!
9 April 2006 | by (Portland, Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

In what may be his funniest role to date, Denis Leary plays kidnapper Gus, who takes wealthy Connecticut couple Lloyd (Kevin Spacey) and Caroline Chasseur (Judy Davis) hostage one Christmas Eve, only to have them drive him absolutely nuts due to their bad marriage! As Gus puts it: "I kidnapped my f--king parents!" We might say that Spacey's role here was a predecessor to his character in "American Beauty" - I can certainly see a similarity - but that's missing the point. The point is to watch how the people here go from one embarrassing situation to the next. The dinner scene really blows everything out of the water. Overall, "The Ref" is looking at the falsity of the suburban lifestyle, but they do some hilarious things to show it. I would say that "The Ref" and "Gremlins" are my two favorite Christmas movies ever.

Also starring Glynis Johns and Christine Baranski.

14 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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