The plot of THE REF has a lot of potential. A married couple from
Hell (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey) is having over their extended
family, which are just as awful, for Christmas. A robber (Dennis
Leary) kidnaps the married couple but even his gun can not keep them
from fighting and yelling at each other.
The good news is that there were many times where the dialog in
this black comedy had me laughing out loud. Periodically, the director
(Ted Demme who I think is Jonathan Demme's brother) would pick up the
pace a la SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION and the film would really hum. The
actors responded very well to the increased pacing and came alive.
Most of the time, however, the movie would start clicking and then some
invisible hand would reach out and grab a lever and slow it down for no
The characters would have been better if the script (Richard
LaGravenese and Marie Weiss) were written a bit more sympathetically.
I did not care about anyone in the show. Well, I guess maybe the thief
had some possibilities for likeableness.
I read one review that said he thought the show was the funniest
comedy he had ever seen, BUT when he saw it a second time he only
barely liked it. He realized later than the first time, the theater
was packed and the second time, it was pretty empty. I saw it in a
sparsely occupied movie house. I think this show would work better
with wall-to-wall people laughing. Go Saturday at 7pm I guess should
be the strategy.
THE REF runs 1:30 and is rated R. If you see this show and love
it, I would not be surprised. The dialog had a lot of promise and some
big laughs. Nevertheless, I thought the pacing was off and the
characters were drawn too purely dark. I give it ** and a marginal
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes