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The Ref (1994) When you watch the daytime talk shows, where audiences tend to cheer whoever's just come up with the loudest insult (it hardly matters whether the… R Comedy Judy Davis Denis Leary Kevin Spacey Jerry Bruckheimer
Movie Review

The Ref (1994)

MPAA Rating: R

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EW's GRADE
C-

Details Rated: R; Genre: Comedy; With: Judy Davis, Denis Leary and Kevin Spacey

When you watch the daytime talk shows, where audiences tend to cheer whoever's just come up with the loudest insult (it hardly matters whether the insults are accurate or not), you can easily get the feeling that America has become a nation of closet bullies. It's this sort of vicarious couch-potato thuggery that's exploited by Ted Demme's The Ref, a foulmouthed sitcom of a film in which Caroline and Lloyd Chasseur (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey), a hostile married couple, are held captive in their suburban Connecticut home by an equally hostile cat burglar (Denis Leary). Davis, with her neurotic intelligence, and Spacey, with his quizzical domestic smolder, would seem to be the perfect actors to star in a black-comic Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But The Ref is crushingly blunt-witted and monotonous in its celebration of domestic sadism. The Chasseurs have their horns locked within two minutes, and so the movie has nothing to do but repeat the same joke over and over. As their eye-rolling antagonist, Denis Leary tries hard to act dangerous, but he's a bantamweight punk — a yuppie with attitude. If anyone steals the movie, it's Glynis Johns, who, as the evil mother-in-law, is the only performer on screen crafty enough to underplay her insults. C-

Originally posted Mar 18, 1994 Published in issue #214 Mar 18, 1994 Order article reprints