Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: The Ref

We hope you've been enjoying our Christmas Movie Countdown so far (check out our thoughts on Elf, A Christmas Story, and Scrooged). Now it's time to enjoy the more dysfunctional side of the holidays and look into 1994's largely forgotten The Ref.

Why is this movie largely forgotten? We're not sure. It has all of the elements of a classic 1990's era Christmas story. No-good hoodlum son home from military school for the holidays? Check. Hateful, dim-witted family members at each other's throats? Check. Bungling cops? Check. Former stand-up comedian trying desperately to finagle a film career? Check.

This movie did actually make use of every one of Denis Leary's considerable talents. He was snarky. He smoked. He smoked snarkily. You watch a movie like this and for a moment remember when we all thought Denis Leary was going to rule the world. And then we realized that no matter what, he could really only play one character: Denis Leary. To be fair, Denis is, and was, a very funny character, but he's probably best left to playing a crook who breaks into the middle of a dysfunctional family holiday and ends up salvaging everything. Unfortunately, he already made that movie, so we're pretty much done with him now.

This film actually had a great cast all around that included a pre-The Usual Suspects Kevin Spacey, who was pretty damned good. And the wife/mom? She's actually Australian. But she doesn't sound Australian. How is that even possible?

In the end, the film isn't challenging, it isn't dangerous, it isn't unpredictable, but you know exactly what you are getting yourself into, and it is a lot of fun.

Today's honorable mention movie is Bad Santa. The mom from Gilmore Girls making "requests" of Billy Bob Thornton isn't nearly enough to make us forget that it's still Billy Bob Thornton playing a miserable alcoholic who aspires to be a marginally-less miserable alcoholic, and we still can't forgive him for giving up on Angelina, weirdo that she may have been.

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