What’s on your family’s movie menu this weekend?

How about the chance to spend some time with some special families?

Check out a young girl who believes in the best that people bring to any situation no matter their backgrounds and a young boy who simply wants his dad to be happy. How about a woman who believes that she can make a difference? Or a woman who learns there is little point to pretending? These interesting characters highlight the nourishing movies that are available this weekend on television.

Few musical films are as immediately endearing as the movie adaptation of the Broadway hit Hairspray from 2007. On stage, this tune-filled show based on the John Waters cult film shines in its creative use of song and dance to tell a story of young people who sense the power of change in Baltimore in the 1960s. The immediacy of film strengthens the story by focusing on the characters behind the situations. While Edna was a comic foil on stage, the endearing film work by John Travolta makes her an endearing character on screen; when, on Broadway, the musical numbers simply entertained, on film they comment on the action as well as the intentions of the characters. At its heart, Hairspray is as a story of how people change, sometimes reluctantly, when social realities reach beyond personal perceptions. Look for Hairspray on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 4:30 p.m. on ABC Family.

Few films about fathers and sons strike such chords of reality as Nora Ephron’s magical Sleepless in Seattle from 1993. With Tom Hanks at his most engaging, and Meg Ryan at her most magical, this romantic comedy is deceptively smart in its use of character to advance the author’s point of view. In her crisp screenplay and direction, Ephron reminds us, as she traces a young boy’s efforts to ensure his widowed father’s happiness, that only when we hope can we move forward. With her clever homage to the classic An Affair to Remember, this marvelous writer/director uses the magic of movies to solidify her tribute to family relationships. No matter how many times you have seen this film, the finale at the top of the Empire State Building will bring a lump to the throat. Check out Sleepless in Seattle on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. on TV Land.

Few actresses are as endlessly endearing as Julia Roberts. From her early screen appearances in Mystic Pizza and Steel Magnolias, she captured our hearts as a performer so authentic in her expressions and compelling in her portrayals. Even when her material was weak — as in such drivel as Hook and Larry Crowne — her sincerity captured our imaginations. Fortunately, in 2000, Roberts found a role as big as her screen personality with the Oscar-winning Erin Brockovich. As a woman determined to make the world better, Roberts brings her natural humor and personality to a carefully etched characterization of a woman who makes selfishness endearing and turns being outrageous into a social advantage. Rarely do the dimensions of a character and the charms of an actress so magically meet. Erin Brockovich airs Sunday, Aug. 4, at 6 p.m. on American Movie Classics (AMC).

Few movie legends are as marvelous on and off screen as the incomparable Julie Andrews. For those of us fortunate enough to have seen her in live performance, this incredible lady radiates a commitment to truth that reaches into the audience. How lucky we are that, in many films, her captivating authenticity transfers to the screen. Of her movie appearances, Victor/Victoria may be her most endearing, simply because it demonstrates the seasoning of her gifts. While Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music represent her meteoric rise to movie stardom, Andrews’ portrayal of a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman in V/V is breathtaking. After all the excitement of her early movie success, followed by several years when Hollywood considered her glory days long gone, Andrews re-emerged in 1982 with this devastating portrayal of sexual ambiguity and arrogance. Her performance rings true on every level, musical, dramatic and humorous. Victor/Victoria airs Sunday at 3 p.m. on Sundance.

 

Serving nutritious movies can be as easy as turning on the television. And be sure, as you watch together, to share what you observe, question and consider. Watching movies together can prompt valuable family discussions.