The Ref, USA, 1994

The movie, The Ref is about Gus, a thief, stealing from Jeremiah Willard, a rich man in a small New England town, on Christmas Eve. When the house alarm goes off, Gus’ partner Murray runs away, leaving Frank on his own. Gus finds safety in the home of Lloyd and Caroline Chasseur, a couple with problems of their own. Amidst the couple’s constant bickering, Gus is able to wield his gun and make them tell the truth about whether or not Lloyd knew he ran a stop sign or that Caroline had a stash of cigarettes even though she said she quit smoking.

This truth-telling spreads to Lloyd’s mother, brother and his wife and children that come for the holiday dinner. Gus tells Lloyd’s sister-in-law that she had better stop hitting her kids. They all have to admit that Lloyd’s mother, more interested in the interest rates of the New Year on the loan she’d given him, is stingy and mean. The confessions continue in the local police station when the Sheriff tells Willard that his cops are inexperienced at investigating, since Willard and his rich friends call on senators and other important people to solve their problems. The Sheriff adds that he had his way with Jeremiah’s wife last summer when he was out of town . . . Lloyd’s troubled son, impressed with what he thinks is Gus’ exciting life, learns that it’s not as glamourous as it seems.

I love a movie that is not only uproariously funny, but also sends a message. Lloyd and Caroline really do love each other. They just needed someone to help draw the lines and make some calls.