Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Zoolander, A Single Man – best films on TV tonight

Delicious-looking animations of food, a classic Ben Stiller comedy and Tom Ford's first movie on tonight's top film picks Saturday 5 July


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – 5pm, 5*


Based on the bestselling children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett, this is a colourful, clever and snazzy animated romp. Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) is a nerdy scientist whose inventions normally end in failure. But he makes his home town famous after he creates a machine that turns water into food – it accidentally gets shot into the sky, and soon it starts raining cheeseburgers. Overeager TV weathergirl Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) covers the story, and teams up with Flint when the falling food threatens to cause a disaster. The voice talents of Hader and Faris – and an unmissable turn from Mr T as the town’s cop – make the characters funny and believable. There is not a wasted moment in this intelligent, surprising and entertaining visual treat, which is a family film that really will please the whole family.

Zoolander – 7:20pm, Film4

A nonstop giggle from start to finish, this rapier-sharp satire on the fashion industry from director/star Ben Stiller balances hipness and endearing stupidity with expert precision. Based on a persona Stiller created for a fashion awards ceremony in 1996, Derek Zoolander (Stiller) is the king of the male-modelling world thanks to the “blue steel” stare that’s been the key to his cover-boy fortune. However, when the hilariously self-absorbed oaf loses his title to new boy Hansel (Owen Wilson) and decides to retire, furtive fashion mogul Mugatu (Will Ferrell) comes to his rescue, but only to brainwash the foolish fop into assassinating the Prime Minister of Malaysia and stop his plans to outlaw sweatshops. Brilliantly conceived and executed, Zoolander mercilessly exposes the shallow and bitchy world of haute couture. Side-splitting highlights include the catwalk duel between Zoolander and Hansel – as refereed by David Bowie – and the return home to his butch coal-mining family presided over by Jon Voight. Loaded with fun cameos from celebrities such as Lenny Kravitz, David Duchovny and Winona Ryder, Stiller’s family affair – comedian father Jerry plays his shady agent, wife Christine Taylor is an investigative reporter and mother Anne Meara also appears – is a consistently inventive delight that never runs out of steam.

A Single Man – 11:10pm, BBC2

Colin Firth’s strength is his ordinariness and he uses it here to great effect in fashion designer Tom Ford’s assured directorial debut. Presenting a façade of dull and unemotional respectability as the eponymous single man, an English academic living in Los Angeles, he’s seemingly your average Joe. However, in reality, he’s struggling to come to terms with the death of his gay partner (Matthew Goode) at a time (the early 1960s) when attitudes were very different from what they are today. The impetus of the film concerns Firth’s contemplation of whether life is worth living without his lover – he buys bullets for an old gun – so there is a kind of suspense as he seemingly prepares to end his anguish. Will the attempts of a male student (Nicholas Hoult) to break through his reserve or an evening spent with boozy best friend Charley (Julianne Moore) change his mind? Ford directs with panache and style, alluding mischievously to Hitchcock, both visually with a poster of Psycho and musically with Abel Korzeniowski’s score echoing the great director’s best-known composer Bernard Herrmann. It all adds to the drama and turmoil within Firth’s beautifully realised character.


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