Take a moment this weekend to introduce some Hollywood classics to your family. Broadcast and cable television stations make it easy to reach into the movie archives. Check out what’s playing.
On Broadway, this musical about singing and dancing students at Rydell High was a happy surprise on stage. When it went to the movies, “Grease” became an extravaganza with big stars and wonderfully over-produced musical numbers. John Travolta is just right as the much-too-cool Danny and Olivia Newton-John, who is initially uncomfortable as goody-goody Sandy, heats up in the role by the finale. The great Stockard Channing steals the show as the ultra wise Betty with her heart of gold.
Friday, June 12, 5 p.m., ABC Family
Jurassic Park (1993)
As we get ready for the new edition on big screens this weekend, we can savor the thrills the original effortlessly creates. This adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel is so well structured by director Steven Spielberg that we believe in the situations and characters from the first moment. And, while the new version appears to highlight Mercedes vehicles, the original reminds us how sturdy a Ford can be. John Williams’ marvelous score, as for so many Spielberg films, ices the cake with just the right tones.
Friday, June 12, 5 p.m., SyFy; Saturday, June 13, 4:11 p.m., USA
It’s Complicated (2009)
Any chance to savor Meryl Streep on screen is worth the time even when the narrative is as incidental as this comedy from Nancy Myers. Streep plays a divorced baker who lives in a fabulous California house that, suddenly, needs to be remodeled. How convenient for Steve Martin to be an architect at the same time that Alex Baldwin shows up as her ex-husband. The result is a lot of mistaken agendas that separate people who should be together. Streep makes us believe it all. Almost.
Saturday, June 13, 1:30 p.m., TBS
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
If “Jurassic Park” reminds us of the visual suspense Steven Spielberg can create, this classic reveals his sense of abandon and adventure. In what may be the most “movie-movie” of the Spielberg releases, “Raiders” celebrates its lunacy with a story so exaggerated it can be believed and characters so interesting we can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Spielberg smartly grounds his characters in real priorities to enhance their reel presence, especially when Harrison Ford admits he hates snakes.
Saturday, June 13, 1:38 p.m. USA
The Sand Pebbles (1966)
When his name was announced at the 1965 Academy Awards as Best Director – for “The Sound of Music” – Robert Wise was in Asia filming this epic about the Chinese revolution. A year later, the new film was nominated for Best Picture and Steve McQueen received his only Oscar nomination as Best Actor. As an engineer on a gunboat, McQueen brings his brooding presence to a compelling story of denial, romance and ambition. And Wise reminds us that he commands the camera even when no one sings a note.
Saturday, June 13, 2 p.m. Turner Classic Movies (TCM)
Irma La Douce (1963)
Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon were both Oscar nominated in 1960 for their roles in Billy Wilder’s brittle comedy “The Apartment”, the year’s Best Picture. Three years later, the trio reunited to transfer this stage musical to the screen. Wilder decided to delete the songs to leave time to develop the characters resulting in a humorous and touching story of a policeman who will do anything to protect the woman he loves. MacLaine found herself, once again, an Oscar nominee for one of her most remembered portrayals.
Sunday, June 14, 4 p.m., Turner Classic Movies (TCM)
Sharing movies can be as easy as turning on the television or going online. And, when you watch as a family, take the time to chat about what you’re seeing. That makes it even more fun.