• R, 1 hr. 33 min.
  • Drama, Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Ted Demme
    In Theaters:
    Mar 9, 1994 Wide
    On DVD:
    Mar 4, 2003
  • Buena Vista Internationa

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The Ref Reviews

Page 1 of 3
Felix Vasquez Jr.
Cinema Crazed

A genuinely hysterical anti-holiday comedy.

Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed

December 29, 2013
Jeff Shannon
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's miraculous casting, and the Australian Davis -- for my money the finest actress around, bar none -- is simply uncanny in her command of East Coast gentility combined with razor-sharp timing and comedic expression.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3/4

December 6, 2013
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Ref benefits from having actor's actors like Davis and Spacey in the leads.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times

December 6, 2013
David Sterritt
Christian Science Monitor

This is a funny idea, but the movie is too thinly written to build any real credibility, and the cast rarely seems in tune with the vapid vulgarities that dominate the dialogue.

Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor

December 6, 2013
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
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It's not a bad idea, but it's not a good movie, either.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 2/4

December 6, 2013
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
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Whether it's a function of sloppy editing or sloppy writing, few of these supporting players and their accompanying subplots pay off.

Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Original Score: 2/4

December 6, 2013
Candice Russell
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Ref is a powerfully funny adult comedy. It skewers marriage, suburban values and the trendy belief that everyone is a victim of something.

Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

December 6, 2013
Stephen Hunter
Baltimore Sun

The trouble with The Ref is that it keeps running out of steam, so it seems to develop a new plot wrinkle every seven minutes. Typically, it'll run through the new idea until it runs out of steam again, then invents yet another one.

Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun | Original Score: 2.5/4

December 6, 2013
Ralph Novak
People Magazine

While director Ted Demme seems to be trying to impose a Home Alone tone, he only succeeds in lending an air of desperation, with lame subplots blundering into the picture.

Full Review Source: People Magazine

December 6, 2013
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A foulmouthed sitcom of a film.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: C-

September 7, 2011
Variety Staff
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Ref works virtually none of the miracles of [Richard LaGravenese's screenplay for The Fisher King,] his previous mix 'n' match effort.

Full Review Source: Variety

March 26, 2009
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What makes most of this work is the brio of the acting, though the direction by Ted Demme and the script by Richard LaGravenese and Marie Weiss certainly don't hurt.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

November 27, 2007

TV Guide's Movie Guide

It's cynical, mean-spirited and, at least at first, viciously funny.

Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Original Score: 3/4

December 4, 2006
Geoff Andrew
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In his first starring role, comedian Leary makes his ranting career criminal strangely sympathetic.

Full Review Source: Time Out

February 9, 2006
David Medsker

The Ref is the one Christmas movie that I can relate to.

Full Review Source: Bullz-Eye.com | Original Score: 4/5

December 24, 2005
Alan Dale

[Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey] play this strident high comedy duet with a self-sustaining brio that easily puts them on the level of the stars of Twentieth Century, The Awful Truth, The Philadelphia Story, and His Girl Friday.

Full Review Source: Blogcritics.org

December 19, 2005
Eric Lurio
Greenwich Village Gazette

Dennis Leary's shining hour. His stand-up persona's greatest moment and it was all down hill from there.

| Original Score: 4/5

December 21, 2004
James Sanford
Kalamazoo Gazette

One of the most underrated comedies of the 1990s

| Original Score: 4/5

October 7, 2004
Ryan Cracknell
Movie Views

Just because The Ref isn't your typical Christmas movie doesn't mean you should skip it. In fact, it should be just the opposite.

Full Review Source: Movie Views

December 24, 2003
Luke Y. Thompson
New Times

Better in hindsight than it first appeared. Leary truly rises to the challenge of acting opposite Davis and Spacey.

| Original Score: 4/5

November 28, 2003
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