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The Ref

Posted on

The Ref

Current Status:
In Season
Judy Davis, Denis Leary, Kevin Spacey
Ted Demme
Jerry Bruckheimer

We gave it a C-

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-