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The Ref

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Ref

Starring: Denis Leary, Judy Davis
Director: Ted Demme
Rated: R
RunTime: 97 Minutes
Release Date: March 1994
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Kevin Spacey, Robert J. Steinmiller, Glynis Johns, Raymond J. Barry, Richard Bright, Christine Baranski, Bill Raymond

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

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 apparent reason.

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 thumbs down.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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