Prisoners, Bridesmaids, Meet the Parents: films on TV today

Hugh Jackman's daughter goes missing, Kristen Wiig has a rival for chief bridesmaid, Robert De Niro is a fiancé's worst nightmare: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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ANDREW COLLINS:  FILM OF THE DAY 
Prisoners ★★★★
9.00pm-12 midnight C4 Premiere

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Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has stealthily become one of the secret-weapon directors of this decade. His most recent film, the gloomy drugs-cartel thriller Sicario (just out on DVD), may be his most celebrated (with three Oscar nominations). However, I recommend his esoteric, dystopian psychodrama Enemy and this thriller, his first bid for mainstream glory after his earlier French-language dramas. A dark, doleful but conventional abduction pulse-quickener from a strong debut screenplay by Aaron Guzikowski, Prisoners sees Jake Gyllenhaal’s softly spoken but dogged detective Loki searching for the missing daughters of Pennsylvania couples Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello, and Terrence Howard and Viola Davis. As a portrait of parental panic, the early section of the film is gripping and scary, but as the investigation deepens to include a suspicious priest and a weirdo who keeps live snakes, important ethical lines are crossed. Always good to see Melissa Leo, Len Cariou and War and Peace’s Paul Dano, but Jackman stands out. And I certainly didn’t foresee the ending.


Bridesmaids ★★★★★
9.00-11.30pm E4 

The happiest day of her life? Things go a bit awry for Maya Rudolph when girlfriends Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne sharpen those false nails and compete for organisational honours. Wiig earned herself an Oscar nomination for her share of a screenplay that had audiences and critics rolling in the aisles, and former IT nerd Chris O’Dowd shot to leading man status as romantic cop Rhodes.   


Meet the Parents ★★★★
9.20-11.05pm BBC3 

The hilariously painful interaction between dad Robert De Niro and prospective son-in-law Ben Stiller may force you to watch this comedy with your hands in front of your face. But however you decide to view it, the gulf between Stiller’s middle-class Jewish nurse and De Niro’s upper-class WASP is a rich source for cringeworthy laughter. 


Jurassic Park III ★★★
10.40pm-12.15am ITV 

Sam Neill is tempted back to a dinosaur island by the promise of funding for his pet palaeontology project, just as we are tempted to this third dino-movie by the hope of an ever-more realistic meeting of man and prehistoric beast. Steven Spielberg retires to the executive producer’s sofa, and passes the megaphone to Joe Johnstone, who has already allowed elephants to trample over cars in Jumanji, and he seems at home with the set-piece format. The mayhem is at the expense of the characterisation, which is perfunctory, but Neill, William H Macy and Téa Leoni are a class act, and fully understand that the humans are only there to act as bait for the real stars of the show.    


Harry Brown ★★★
10.00pm-12.05am 5★ 

Michael Caine stars here as the old age punisher who uses his military skills to rid his neighbourhood of violent gangs. Described as a Death Wish for the noughties, Daniel Barber’s gritty feature debut shows Harry’s inner strength by accenting character over action, giving the veteran Caine a chance to show what a subtle actor he is.  


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