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Oscar nominee Judy Davis, Tony-winner Kevin Spacey and Robert Steinmiller have joined the cast of Touchstone’s “The Ref.” Filming begins June 23 in Toronto on the $ 12 million action-comedy which also stars Denis Leary.

Based on a screenplay by Richard LaGravenese (“The Fisher King”) and Mary Weiss, the story centers on a burglar (Leary) who forces his way into a suburban household to outwit pursuing cops. After a series of mishaps, he winds up patching up Davis and Spacey’s marriage and the couple’s strained relationship with their budding juvenile delinquent son.

“It all takes place on Christmas Eve,” said director Ted Demme from location. “While it’s couched as a comedy, this is about typical white American family problems, especially dysfunctional ones.”

“The Ref’s” subplot, in which a boy bonds with a criminal in favor of his parents, is fast becoming the favorite new film theme.

Kevin Costner, an escaped convict in the forthcoming Clint Eastwood-directed “A Perfect World,” forms a close relationship with a boy he kidnaps.

A similar situationarises between Danny Aiello and Alex Zuckerman in “Taking Gary Feldman” from producer/director Dan Curtis. And in Rob Reiner’s currently filming “North,” a young boy seeks to be legally separated from his parents.

“The boy’s role is crucial,” said Demme. “I suppose he does bond with Gus (Leary’s character) but it’s more complicated. He really does love his parents.”

Steinmiller, who plays the son, was discovered in Chicago in a talent search for the Danny DeVito-starrer “Jack the Bear.”