Hitch – 1:15pm, C5
Will Smith puts his easy charm to good use in this flimsy but appealing New York-set romantic comedy from Sweet Home Alabama director Andy Tennant. Smith plays a professional romantic adviser, who discreetly helps ordinary guys date the women of their dreams. When talk of Hitch’s success reaches the ears of gossip columnist Eva Mendes, she is determined to expose the anonymous cupid, unaware that he’s also the mishap-prone suitor trying to win her heart. Initially, the film feels fresh and buoyant, thanks to a sleek script and genuine chemistry between its attractive leads. It’s witty, full of romantic wisdom and makes up for in laughs what it lacks in substance. There’s also strong support, with Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop) almost stealing the show as Smith’s goofy client. Unfortunately, as the overlong tale hits its final third, it abruptly loses its spark, and sharp and sassy is replaced by conventional and lazy.
The Hunger Games – 9pm, C4
In this impressive action thriller, faithfully adapted from the first book in Suzanne Collins’s bestselling trilogy, a failed revolution in what used to be called America has led to the creation of 12 downtrodden districts that serve the wealthy Capitol. As penance for the uprising, every year two young people from each district are drafted to fight to the death in a televised combat spectacle. Although pitted against far stronger rivals, resourceful heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) fans the flames of working-class unrest with her iron will to survive. Despite well-worn ideas culled from the likes of The Running Man (1987) and Battle Royale(2000), and such obvious targets as reality TV, the idle rich/revolting poor divide and social control through the media, director Gary Ross (Pleasantville) keeps the sci-fi themes vivid and relevant, the camerawork jittery and involving and the action speedy and thrilling. Bolstering Lawrence’s magnetic performance are marvellous turns by smitten fellow competitor Josh Hutcherson, jaded mentor Woody Harrelson and smarmy TV host Stanley Tucci. The dystopian design is also inspired, in a surprisingly serious franchise start-up that will please fans of the books and newcomers alike.
Wayne’s World – 9pm, E4
Bill and Ted introduced the concept of dudes to an unwitting audience, but it was this spin-off from the TV show Saturday Night Live that brought in the megabucks and took “teen speak” to a new level. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey play Wayne and Garth, whose low-budget public access cable show is transformed into a national TV phenomenon by sleazy producer Rob Lowe. Along the way, Myers falls in love with rock chick Tia Carrere and, along with Carvey, gets to meet their idol Alice Cooper. Aiming for the unashamedly moronic, director Penelope Spheeris nevertheless manages to sneak in some sly satirical jibes and it benefits from inspired casting: Myers and Carvey are excellent, Lowe and Lara Flynn Boyle, as Myers’s mad ex-girlfriend, are both nicely cast against type, and there is a neat cameo fromTerminator 2 villain Robert Patrick. The music’s mainly metal, but the wonderful Queen tribute means you will never – if you ever did – be able to take Bohemian Rhapsodyseriously again.
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