The Ref (1994)

TitleThe Ref
Year of Release: 1994
Available On: Netflix, October 2017
Rating: 0 out of 5 Jingle Bells

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Connie: Who would catch a criminal and then let him go free?
John: Republicans?

This is kiiiinda a Christmas movie. It takes place at Christmas time, anyway. It also has themes of forgiveness and holiday “spirit,” which is not lost on me. Think “Home Alone” era in terms of production and star quality, but then imagine that the burglars are actually pretty nice guys and the family is the real wild card. Caroline and Lloyd have fallen out of love. (Why does it feel like Kevin Spacey always plays a suburban dad named Lloyd?) Their marriage has had challenges, like all relationships do, and they haven’t weathered them well. Lloyd’s mother is insufferable and manipulative, but no one is willing to stand up to her. The children know something isn’t right, but don’t have the words or maturity (nor should they be expected) to fix the problems in their family. Enter pseudo bad guy, Gus, who is actually pretty nice, if troubled. He can tell immediately that this family is beyond fucked, but he’s trapped with them and needs them in order to escape.

Possible Stockholm syndrome and/or holiday magic later… You have a heart-warming movie that takes place when there’s snow on the ground that is actually worth watching. I can’t believe I didn’t make it to this one until 2017. Don’t skip it, especially if you’re craving a little 90′s feel-good movie time.

Edited in November 2017 to say that this movie now gets zero jingle bells because fuck Kevin Spacey. Fuck abusers. Don’t support them, don’t watch their movies, watch a million other movies that don’t star abusive men.

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