Directed by – Ted Demme
Written by – Marie Weiss, Richard LaGravenese
Starring – Denis Leary, Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey, Robert J. Steinmiller Jr., Glynis Johns, Raymond J. Barry, Christine Baranski, Adam LeFevre, Phillip Nicoll, Ellie Raab, Bill Raymond, John Scurti, Jim Turner, Kenneth Utt, Robert Ridgely, J.K. Simmons, Rutanay Alda
With so few days left until Christmas I’ve been running out of time and holiday movies to watch but I came across this one in my search. I hadn’t seen this movie since it came out but I’ve always been a fan of Denis Leary and remembered enjoying this one. Dysfunctional families seem to be a theme in Christmas comedies but this family wins the prize. Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis are the couple kidnapped by Denis Leary and they just happened to be on the way home from their marriage counsellors office. Even their therapist can barely deal with them but it all becomes Denis Leary’s problem.
While Leary is trying to hide out in their home, he soon realizes he’s bitten off more than he can chew. Even tied up together, Spacey and Davis trade insults back and forth, slowly wearing on Leary’s patience. Not only must he deal with the deranged couple but their son is on the way home from military school where he’s made an artform of blackmail and of course the rest of the family is coming for Christmas dinner.
Now with Denis Leary in one of the main roles, this isn’t one that the kiddies can enjoy as well. His brand of comedy is rapid fire and full of vulgarity which is how I like it and although his pace is a little slowed down in this one, he still finds time to inject his brand of humour into the proceedings. Still, the best delivery comes courtesy of Kevin Spacey towards the end of the film when he finally stands up for himself against his wife, mother and the rest of the family who looks down on him.
There’s plenty of laughs in this one, not only from the family but also from the smaller players in the film. There’s a neighbour who makes the yearly rounds as Santa Claus except this year he’s been getting into the liquor a bit too much, the local cops who aren’t used to any crime in their small town and couldn’t catch a cold and the sheriff of the town who may be capable of catching Leary if he wasn’t held back by his inept police force.
Eventually everything is wrapped up in a nice, big, Christmasy bow and everyone rides off into the sunset. It is a holiday movie ya know! It’s a hilarious ride and watching Kevin Spacey slowly grow a pair throughout the film is one of the highlights. Just when I thought no family could beat the dysfunction that was National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, along came The Ref to remind me of the disaster that can be the family holiday dinner. Now that I’ve rediscovered this one, it will become a part of my holiday viewing for years to come. Besides, it makes me feel better about my family! HAHA!
Under the mistletoe – Will