ENTERTAINMENT
01/04/2021 05:00 BST | Updated 01/04/2021 09:39 BST

Easter Films Guide: What To Watch On TV Over The Loooong Weekend

If you're planning on spending a lot of time at home this bank holiday, you're in luck.

It pains us to say it, but the four-day Easter weekend has lost some its appeal in 2021.

True, we’re looking forward to an extended time of not having to worry about work, but with pub gardens not opening in the UK for a few more weeks, and visits to friends’ homes still out of the question, plans are very much weather-dependent.

Still, if we do find ourselves indoors over the loooong Easter weekend, at least we can say that there are plenty of good films on TV – as well as some great new arrivals on streaming services – to keep us entertained while we tuck into our chocolate eggs.

Here are 20 of our top film recommendations for the next few days...

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

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When’s it on? Friday at 9.55am on ITV2

Tell me more: What better way to kick off Easter weekend than a film that centres almost entirely around chocolate?

Tim Burton’s adaptation hones in some of the more sinister elements of Roald Dahl’s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory story – it is a bit weird that Willy Wonka is inviting all of these children into his workplace only to seriously injure and terrorise them, right? – but it is, thankfully for those with families to keep amused, still totally kid-friendly. 

Recommended for: When you need something to tide you over until 48 hours’ time when you can finally tear into your Easter chocolate.  

Concrete Cowboy

Netflix

When’s it on? Streaming on Netflix from Friday.

Tell me more: This Netflix original is a modern-day Western about a teenager who’s sent to live with his estranged dad in Philadelphia, where he gets to know the local community of urban cowboys.

Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin takes centre stage, while Idris Elba plays his father.

Recommended for: Anyone for whom the thought of Idris Elba riding a horse sounds in any way appealing.

King Of Kings

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When’s it on? Friday at 2pm on BBC Two

Tell me more: Well it wouldn’t be the Easter weekend with some biblical epic airing on the BBC in the middle of the day. This year they’re showing King Of Kings, with Jeffrey Hunter in the lead role of Jesus and Rip Torn playing Judas.

Clocking in at two hours and 48 minutes, it’s a bit of a bum-number, but it’s no The Greatest Story Ever Told, which goes on a total of four hours and 20 minutes.

Recommended for: If there’s a 168 minute-sized hole in your Good Friday afternoon.

The Sound Of Music

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When’s it on? Friday at 5.45pm on BBC One

Tell me more: Come for the dreamy blue skies and shots of the Austrian mountains, the comforting sight of Julie Andrews in her habit and family-friendly tunes like Do-Re-Mi, My Favourite Things and Sixteen Going Going On Seventeen.

Stay for the surprisingly action-packed true story of a group of badass nuns helping the Von Trapp family escape the Nazis. And The Lonely Goatherd, obv.

Recommended for: Literally everyone, there’s a reason this film has stood the test of time and still gets shown pretty much every time there’s a bank holiday.

The Help 

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The Help

When’s it on? Streaming on Disney+ from Friday.

Tell me more: This star-studded film tells the story of two Black maids in 1960s Mississippi, who share their experiences of racism and workplace mistreatment with an aspiring white journalist.

The Help has proved controversial, with many accusing the film of perpetuating a white saviour narrative, and Viola Davis later expressing regret over appearing in the film.

While the subject matter and tone may be problematic, there are some fantastic performances from cast members like Viola, Emma Stone, Allison Janney, Cicely Tyson and Jessica Chastain, not to mention a scene-stealing role for Octavia Spencer, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Minny Jackson.

Recommended for: Anyone who wants to see some incredible acting from a seriously A-list female-led ensemble cast.

Death Becomes Her

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When’s it on? Streaming on Netflix from Thursday.

Tell me more: Initially dismissed by critics upon its release almost 30 years ago, Death Becomes Her has since become a cult classic thanks to its oft-quoted one-liners and fabulously over-the-top performances from leading stars Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn.

The dark comedy sees the stars playing a pair of best friends obsessed with youth and one-upping one another, who stumble on the secret to eternal youth, with ridiculous consequences.

Recommended for: Anyone who needs a bit of camp in their lives.

Shrek

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When’s it on? Streaming on Netflix from Thursday.

Tell me more: Long before the 500 sequels, various spin-offs and whatever that Shrek’s Adventure place on the South Bank is, there was Shrek.

The CGI film turned every fairytale trope on its head, and did it in hilarious and – by animated family films’ standards – quite edgy fashion, and it definitely still stands up almost 20 years later. And when you’re done with it, the arguably-even-better follow-up Shrek 2 is also streaming now.

Recommended for: People with children who need to be educated about the amazing pre-Frozen animated films of the early 2000s. 

Bridesmaids

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When’s it on? Friday at 9pm on ITV2.

Tell me more: Bridesmaids is, quite simply, one of the funniest comedies of the past 10 years, if not the funniest.

The recipient of two Oscar nominations (although it deserved way more, let’s be honest), the film follows the highs and lows of one woman in the lead-up to her best friend’s wedding, as she deals with her own break-up, a rival for her BFF’s attention and an especially nasty case of food poisoning. If you still haven’t watched Bridesmaids, now is absolutely the time to tune in.

Recommended for: Anyone who’s spent their entire Good Friday watching family-friendly films and is in need of a good laugh at something less suitable for young viewers.

Nanny McPhee

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When’s it on? Saturday at 1.10pm on ITV2

Tell me more: Essentially the anti-Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee sees the titular nanny arriving at a household in Victorian England to care for a family of seven children, who prove to be a handful for their widowed father.

There’s no “spoonful of sugar” with Emma Thompson’s decidedly unglamorous character, though, who gets the children in line with some unusual disciplinary tactics. Oh, and magic, obv.

Recommended for: People who need something to keep any children in your household entertained for a couple of hours.

Mrs Doubtfire

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When’s it on? Saturday at 6.40pm on Film 4

Tell me more: Undeniably a god-tier family comedy, Robin Williams’ performance in Mrs Doubtfire is a high-point in a career of high-points.

The Oscar-winning star plays Daniel Hillard, who goes to extraordinary lengths to get close to his children after splitting up with their mother. Mrs Doubtfire packs in the laughs, as you’d expect from a Robin Williams film, but there’s also some real emotional scenes in this classic.

Recommended for: When you fancy a bit of cosy nostalgia.

Wonder Woman

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When’s it on? Saturday at 9pm on ITV2

Tell me more: After being introduced was Wonder Woman in 2016′s Batman vs. Superman, this film saw Gal Gadot take the lead for the first time, exploring the iconic superhero’s origins.

Suitably action-packed and full of nods to the original comic book character, Wonder Woman broke records upon its release and won mostly positive reviews from critics.

Recommended for: Superhero fans who were disappointed not to get their usual cinema fix in 2020. 

BlacKkKlansman

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When’s it on? Saturday at 9pm on Channel 4

Tell me more: BlacKkKlansman is based on the memoir of the same name, which centres around Colorado Springs’ first African American police detective in the 1970s, as he plans to infiltrate a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, the white supremacist hate group.

The film won praise for performances from actors John David Washington, Adam Driver and Laura Harrier, and finally won filmmaker Spike Lee his first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Recommended for: Prestige film fans, for sure. 

Easter Parade

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Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in Easter Parade

When’s it on? Sunday at 1pm on BBC Two

Tell me more: This classic musical centres around an Easter-time romance (naturally), featuring signature songs Steppin’ Out With My Baby and, of course, Easter Parade.

Easter Parade saw Fred Astaire coming out of retirement to appear opposite Judy Garland, and won an Academy Award the year after its 1948 release.

Recommended for: With Judy Garland and Fred Astaire sharing the screen, this film is a must-watch for anyone with an interesting the so-called “golden era” of Hollywood.

Hop

Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

When’s it on? Sunday at 1.20pm on ITV2

Tell me more: Very fitting for this time of year, Hop introduces us to E.B., an adorable young rabbit (voiced by Russell Brand, bizarrely enough), who doesn’t want to pursue the family business and become the Easter Bunny, instead dreaming of becoming a drummer.

Mixing animation and live-action, look out for appearances from James Marsen, Kaley Cuoco, Chelsea Handler and some extremely cute chicks.

Recommended for: Come on, who doesn’t fancy seeing a CGI bunny and some cute chicks bounding around on Easter Sunday?

The Simpsons Movie

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The Simpsons Movie

When’s it on? Sunday at 3.40pm on Channel 4

Tell me more: You’re familiar with The Simpsons, right? Well, after almost 20 years on our screens, the famous yellow family took over the big screen in 2007 with their first film.

Many speculated how well a 20-minute animated comedy would transfer to a film, but The Simpsons Movie actually stands up pretty well. And while many remember this film mostly for Spider-Pig, “President Schwarzenegger” and that weird bit where Bart skateboards naked, it’s Julie Kavner’s at-times heartbreaking performance as Marge that stands out for us.

Recommended for: Anyone who doesn’t mind having Homer Simpson’s “Spider-Pig” song stuck in their head for at least 24 hours after watching.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

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When’s it on? Sunday at 4.10pm on Channel 5

Tell me more: A British bank holiday staple (Channel 5 literally showed it in pretty much the same timeslot last year), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is, indeed, a “truly scrumptious” family musical guaranteed to put a smile on the face of anyone who loved it as a kid.

Apart from when the Child Catcher is on screen, of course, who we still find legit terrifying long into adulthood.

Recommended for: People who love a good old-fashioned family sing-a-long on a bank holiday.

Grease

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When’s it on? Sunday at 5.55pm on Channel 4

Tell me more: Like, does he have a car?

Realistically, we probably don’t need to tell you about Grease, so we’re just going to say that There Are Worse Things I Could Do is forever an underrated song, and we’re not looking forward to the inevitable discourse about whether or not the ending is problematic that crops up every single time this film is shown on TV.

21 Jump Street

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When’s it on? Sunday at 10.20pm on ITV

Tell me more: We’re not entirely sure how this “buddy cop action comedy” ended up on the bank holiday listings, but it’s an enjoyable enough watch, so we’re not mad at it.

Based on the 80s TV show, 21 Jump Street sees Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum playing a pair of police officers who are forced to relive their high school years when they go undercover.

Recommended for: When you’ve eaten too much Easter chocolate and you’re still on a sugar high, even at 10.20 at night.

Sense And Sensibility 

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When’s it on? Monday at 2.15pm on Channel 5

Tell me more: Written by and starring Dame Emma Thompson, Sense And Sensibility was released during the Jane Austen renaissance of the mid-90s, around the time of the BBC’s much-loved Pride And Prejudice TV series and the big-screen version of Emma.

Sense And Sensibility earned an impressive seven Oscar nominations, including a win for Best Adapted Screenplay.

And can we please just talk about the cast for a second? Not only is Emma Thompson in the leading role, the film also boasts Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman the two Hughs (yes, Grant and Laurie) and Gemma Jones among its players.

Recommended for: Those who love a good old-fashioned period drama to keep them entertained on a bank holiday Monday.

Despicable Me

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Despicable Me

When’s it on? Monday at 5.05pm on ITV2

Tell me more: The film that introduced the world to the Minions... but please don’t hold that against it.

Despicable Me proved to be a surprise hit upon its release in 2010, and has gone on to spawn a massive saga, including two sequels and an additional two prequels. 

Recommended for: Those in need of a distraction from the fact the long weekend is nearly over, and it’s back to work tomorrow. 

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