Screengrab: The joke’s on us

Screen GrabRichard Lutz checks the TV listings to find next week’s movie gems

Well, someone must have been itching the funny bones of the television schedulers recently.

No special series of German expressionism to darken the week’s viewing. No angsty collection of spy films. No teen vampire, no earnest Hollywood star, no heavy drama doc this week about the Mid East or tedious tales of narco cops.

Nope. Just a stream of funny films. Here goes:

SUNDAY kicks off with The Producers (11am, Film4). This is the 1968 movie that was based on an earlier unstaged play. Director Mel Brooks filmed it and then finally staged it on Broadway where it became a hit and ended life as a tepid cinematic re-make. If you can follow that. So stick with this original 47 year old Zero Mostel/Gene Wilder five star comedy. And dance along to Springtime for Hitler.

MONDAY offers Red Rock West (8.15am, Sky Movie Select). This is Nicholas Cage’s best film. A noir comedy about a vagabond who drives into a cowboy backwater town and is mistaken for a hitman. Despite Mr Cage closely resembling my brother in law, he has had an up and down career. Too much junk litters his CV. This dry as a desert black comedy also has Dennis Hopper as the real killer. And he plays it for evil laughs.

TUESDAY plays host to Minnesota’s most famous sons- the Coen brothers. Their film, A Serious Man (11.35pm, BBC1), is more of the human comedy type of tale rather than a laugh a minute hoot. Academic Larry Gopnick  tries to succeed-at anything really- but all ends in bathos and failure. A lesson for all of us.

On to WEDNESDAY and time for A Challenge for Robin Hood (4.50pm, Film4). This ragged tale of our man from Sherwood has all the flair of a grumpy bedbug. Gone is Errol Flynn’s Robin and gone too is even Richard Green and his ATV outlaws. In place is a dicey hackneyed script, a cardboard villainous sheriff,  backlot locations and plot so loose it could be his granny’s underwear. Laughs – but for the wrong reasons.

THURSDAY and back to quality. Airplane (7.15pm, Film4)  is the spoof of all spoofs. The directors mined all the tired tropes of grade B disaster movies to come up with this daft tale of a plane on a crash course to bad jokes, terrifically delivered. Leslie Neilsen re-molded his flagging career with his role as Frank Drebbin and kept his po-faced hero going for decades.

And finally to FRIDAY and what a way to edge into the weekend with This is Spinal Tap (12.20am Sat, ITV4). This achingly funny take on the deadpan rockumentary follows a fictional heavy metal band that is all but true to life. Billy Crystal, Anjelica Huston and Patrick McNee make cameo appearances as the National Lampoon mock the rockers.