1994’s “The Ref” brings criminal Christmas humor

Elizabeth Anton, Staff Writer

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When it comes to Christmas movies, most show loving and comedic families with a few hiccups or even love stories between old friends. “The Ref”, on the other hand, shows us that even a criminal on the run can fix family issues.

Gus (Denis Leary) is a man on the run after he robs a rich home just before Christmas. On his way to escaping, he hijacks a car with a married couple inside who seems to only be fighting all the time. Lloyd and Caroline Chasseur (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) are left playing obedient to this gun-wielding man as they go through Christmas Eve, dreading when their expectant relatives will arrive.

What Gus didn’t expect is that he would be the one person to save their marriage and get how they really feel about Lloyd’s mother in the open air during their family gathering.

This 1994 film was a bit inappropriate and weird at times but otherwise came across as funny and charming. I found Gus to be my favorite character- A realist who knows how to be a caring human and still get his selfish job done while also making comedic quips.

Lloyd got easily irritated and Caroline made it easy for Gus to keep them hostage. Together, they were ironically funny as they fought even while Gus was standing in front of them with his gun. Their son, Jesse (Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.), tried to be a smart ass even when tied up. Whether that made him brave or just plain stupid is debatable.

Throughout the movie, the perspective would switch to the police’s view on the situation and the stupid shenanigans of the underling cops. They were meant to be funny but unfortunately, these characters didn’t really hit it off for me. I did enjoy the moments with the police chief though and even felt sorry for him as he dealt with these cops and a snobby higher up that wanted him replaced.

The various characters that were Lloyd’s relatives came across as annoying in both a funny and cringe-worthy way. Lloyd’s mother was–intentionally–the worst character of all. Her role was well done, as the audience could mutually feel the dislike and borderline hate towards her that the characters in the movie were experiencing. If the mother were a real person, no one would want to be around her.

My personal rating is 7/10: there are good characters, a clear structure of events, funny dialogue, and realism. The movie never felt confusing or misleading. Plus, as a person who doesn’t enjoy watching movies anymore, I actually found this one worthwhile. I would even watch it again, maybe to hunt for details or jokes I may have missed.

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1994’s “The Ref” brings criminal Christmas humor