HDTV Movie Premieres: March 19-25

Marley & Me: TV3, 8.30pm Saturday.

Every dog-eared joke you can think of is funnier than this comedy that laboriously contrasts a husband-and-wife’s testing relationship with their larrikin Labrador’s unconditional love. Based on a true story, it’s an amusing but predictable take on marriage, kids and pets that surprises only by crediting among its writers Don Roos, who wrote and directed the much more adult Happy Endings and The Opposite of Sex. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star; The Devil Wears Prada’s David Frankel directs. (2008)

Invictus: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

This stirring dramatisation of South Africa’s bid to win the 1995 World Cup stars Morgan Freeman as a newly elected President Nelson Mandela trying to reconcile his bitterly divided countrymen through rugby and the prospect of beating the All Blacks. Invictus overplays the underdog feelgood factor but stands out for its exciting sporting action, telling political drama and inspirational appeal for compassion, tolerance and forgiveness. Matt Damon co-stars; Clint Eastwood directs. (2010)

When in Rome: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Wednesday.

Kristen Bell plays a jaded New Yorker who finds unexpected romance in Rome. Josh Duhamel, Will Arnett, Danny DeVito and Anjelica Huston co-star; Mark Steven Johnson (Ghost RiderDaredevil) directs. Variety thought it a “predictable but pleasant comedic fantasy” but Time said it was “a picture that registers between Abysmally Awful and Mildly Mediocre” while the New York Times warned the “dull stabs art verbal wit” will leave you “baffled, bored or slightly grossed out”. (2010)

The Patriot: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Wednesday.

Mel Gibson plays yet another maverick on the warpath in this embarrassingly sombre account of how the heroic Yanks gave the beastly Brits what-ho! during the American War of Independence. Such expedient historical hokum might be forgivable if The Patriot was rousing entertainment instead of risible, anachronistic, sentimental nonsense with a two-and-a-half-hour narrative that’s as overblown as it is blood-soaked. Heath Ledger co-stars; Roland Emmerich (2012, 10,000 BC) directs. (2000)

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