The Ref (a.k.a. Hostile Hostages in some countries) is an Christmas-themed black comedy film, directed by Ted Demme, executive produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (under their Buena Vista deal of the time) starring Denis Leary, Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey, that was released in theaters through the Touchstone Pictures label on March 11, 1994.
In a charming Connecticut village, Lloyd and Caroline Chasseur (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) are in marriage counseling on Christmas Eve; the session does not go well and their problems become evident. Caroline has had an affair, and Lloyd is miserable and blames the problems with their 14-year-old son, Jesse (Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.), on his wife. (She coddles and protects him and thinks he does no wrong, while he continues to treat him like the criminal he turns out to really be.) The marriage counselor Dr. Wong (B.D. Wong), tries to get them to open up, but, behaving professionally, he refuses to intercede on either side.
Meanwhile, a criminal named Gus (Denis Leary) is in the midst of stealing jewelry from a safe in a home he has broken into; however, he accidentally sets off the alarm, a trap door opens and he lands in the basement. Only after he is bitten on the leg by a guard dog is Gus able to escape the house, but his getaway car, driven by his bumbling, alcoholic partner Murray (Richard Bright), is no longer there. Then he runs into Lloyd and Caroline. Holding a gun on them, Gus orders the couple to drive him to their house. Along the way Caroline and Lloyd continue to argue, with Gus beginning to act as a referee and repeatedly telling them to shut up.
At the house, Lloyd and Caroline continue to argue. Knowing full well that Murray will seek refuge at a seedy bar, Gus calls the bar and describes Murray to the bartender. He tells Murray to steal a boat for their getaway. Jesse comes home and discovers his parents tied up. Jesse is unhappy, forced to attend military school, and has been blackmailing a commanding officer there named Siskel (J.K. Simmons) with photographs of an affair, and is also in possession of a baby Jesus from their town's nativity scene for unknown reasons (which is discovered by Gus when snooping around the house after Caroline denies Jesse had anything to do with it to him). He prefers Gus to his parents, but Gus, despite claiming earlier to Lloyd that his life as a criminal is more meaningful than Lloyd's seemingly pampered life is, explains to Jesse that his life isn't all as great as he thinks it might be.
Meanwhile, police set up roadblocks and set a curfew to help look for Gus, while two inept officers go door to door. Lt. Huff, the chief at the local precinct is less than concerned over it because nothing like this ever happens there. However, Huff does obtain video footage of Gus in action, but while taking a call, his bumbling officers accidentally record over the footage trying to change the channel back to the movie they were watching; It's a Wonderful Life. Due to this and his lax attitude over the whole thing, he is later informed by Bob, a councilman, that his officers are to report to him and that he is fired the day after Christmas. However, his joy is crushed when Lt. Huff informs him that he slept with his wife once while out of town, and was a better lover than he was.
Another side story is a neighbor dressed as Santa named George. He comes by to deliver a fruitcake to the Chasseurs, then goes off to a Christmas party to hand out gifts, but eventually gets belligerent with the kids and winds up so drunk he is kicked out of the party.
Lloyd's family is en route for the holidays. It includes his brother Gary (Adam LeFevre), sister-in-law Connie (Christine Baranski), their two children Mary and John (Ellie Raab and Phillip Nicoll), and Lloyd’s mother Rose (Glynis Johns), who is extremely wealthy and bullies everyone in the family. Gus pretends to be Lloyd's and Caroline's marriage counselor, Dr. Wong, since he cannot hold everyone hostage. Jesse is tied up and gagged upstairs in his parents' closet. Caroline and Lloyd are unable to stop fighting, and Caroline demands a divorce. Gus' pointed comments goad Lloyd to finally find the guts to stand up to his wife and his mother. Everyone finds out who Gus really is after Rose attempts to go upstairs; Gus puts a gun to her head and Connie, fed up with everybody, says, "Shoot her."
Siskel turns up to reveal how he is being blackmailed. Jesse has managed to untie himself and is discovered with his hidden money. Then George, still dressed as Santa, returns, very drunk, wondering why he never gets a gift in return. He spots the gun, realizes who Gus is, then runs at him, only to get knocked out. The state police arrive and Lloyd, having a change of heart decides he cannot "spend his life sending everyone he cares about to prison" and tells Jesse to take Gus to the docks using a path through the woods. Gus steals the Santa suit and makes it safely to the boat. He escapes, arguing with Murray much the same way he argued all night with Caroline and Lloyd.
Back at home, the couple's bickering even drives away the police. Having aired out their differences throughout the evening with their armed robber's assistance, they make up and decide to stay together and kiss. Their reconciliation is interrupted when John informs them that "grandma Rose is eating through her gag."
|"The Holly and the Ivy"||
|"Please Come Home for Christmas"||Lou Ann Barton|
|"A Holly Jolly Christmas"||Burl Ives|
|"Get a Life"||David A. Stewart|
|"You Put the X in Christmas"||The Nuff Bros. Band|
|"Tomorrow We Live"|
|"Blue Christmas"||Joyce Cobb|
|Nat 'King' Cole|
|"Welcome to the Suburbs"||Shara Nelson|
|"Broken Circles"||Ke Grivois|
Casting by Howard Feuer
Nicole Arbusto, Associate
Candaian Casting by Deirdre Bowen
|Robert J. Steinmiller Jr.||Jesse|
|Raymond J. Barry||Huff|
|Ron Gabriel||Limo Driver|
|Kenneth Utt||Jeremiah Willard|
|Marilyn Stonehouse||Store Cashier|
|Victoria Mitchell||Store Customer|
|Cort Day||Salvation Army Volunteer|
|Robert Ridgely||Bob Burley|
|John Benjamin Hickey
|Old Baybrook Policemen|
John E. Campbell
|Santa Family #1|
|Santa Family #2|
|Santa Family #3|
|Grace Church On the Hill Boys Choir||Themselves|
|Matt Birman||Driving Cop|
|BD Song||Dr. Wong (Marriage Counselor)|
content from Wikipedia (view authors).