The Blues Brothers, The Mexican, Transamerica: films on TV today

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd are on mission from God, Brad Pitt heads south of the border, while mannish Felicity Huffman feels like a woman: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today


The Blues Brothers ★★★★
9.00-11.40pm ITV4 


John Landis’s wild, chaotic musical simply didn’t work for me but what do I know? I’m in a small, disgruntled minority; everyone else seems to love it. The story (such as it is) has the Blues brothers, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, reuniting after Belushi is released from jail and reforming their old band to raise money to save the orphanage where they were raised. Somehow – don’t ask – this involves clashes with the police, rednecks and Nazis, several frenetic chases, culminating in the spectacular pile up of numerous police cars, guest appearances by the likes of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and James Brown and, I must admit, some pretty sensational music. Plus, of course, the brothers’ iconic black suits and shades.

The Mexican ★★★
12 midnight-1.55am BBC1 

Romcom fans may want to look elsewhere if they want to see Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts kissing and holding hands, as they spend most of their time here shouting at each other. But when their relationship hits rock bottom, things get fun. Pitt heads down Mexico way to retrieve a cursed gun for the Mob, while Roberts takes Stockholm syndrome to unexplored levels by offering guy advice to gay hitman James Gandolfini. Quirky doesn’t begin to cover it.

Transamerica ★★★★
1.20-3.05am C4 

Not many actresses could play a man about to undergo a sex change, but Felicity Huffman pulls it off (so to speak) with aplomb here, and garnered an Oscar nomination in the process. A relationship of the odd-couple kind develops when Huffman learns she has a long-lost teenage son, a young tearaway who needs bail money and a ride home from the clink. What follows is less a road trip, more a voyage of discovery – and rediscovery – for both damaged individuals.

Drillbit Taylor ★★★
8.00-10.05pm E4 

Owen Wilson plays bodyguard to a trio of bullied high-schoolers in this likeable growing-pains comedy. With Judd Apatow on producer duties, Seth Rogen co-writing the script from a story whipped up by the god-like John Hughes (under his pseudonym Edmond Dantes), you can at least be sure that there’s a good quota of gags – and plenty of squirmingly awkward schoolroom shenanigans.  

Jackpot ★★★
Premiere 10.00-11.20pm BBC4 

If you caught the Freeview preview of Headhunters on BBC4 last week, here’s another blackly comic tale penned by Scandi crime writer Jo Nesbo. It begins with a win on the football pools for a group of Norwegian factory workers and ends in a bloodbath. The sole survivor from the syndicate relates the whole sorry tale.