Our biweekly family-programming guide returns with a weekend (and Monday) slate of classics old and new, and a bit of Thanksgiving-baking magic.
Remember, all times Eastern (check local listings for time and channel number in your area).
The Princess Bride (1987) — Friday 8 and 10 p.m., BBC America
Screenwriter William Goldman once famously said:
Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion-picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.
Well, Goldman guessed right on this cult classic, adapted from his own novel, itself based on a story he made up for his two daughters. In the film, a grandfather (Peter Falk) tells his ailing grandson (Fred Savage) about princess-bride-to-be Buttercup (Robin Wright), and Westley (Cary Elwes), a farmboy who finds his inner swashbuckler.
Their adventures are filled with colorful characters (played by, among others, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal and Carol Kane), incredible beasties and a cornucopia of memorable lines — all in service of a satire of the fairy-tale genre that also pays tribute to it.
Wrote Catholic reviewer Deacon Steven Greydanus:
[Director] Rob Reiner’s great cult classic The Princess Bride is one of those rare satiric gems, like The Court Jester and Galaxy Quest, that doesn’t just send up a genre, but honors it at the same time, giving us the excitement and pleasure of the real thing as well as the laughs of a comedy.
The movie also got a shout-out in an episode of our new YouTube series, “Catholic Central” (all episodes available here):
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) — Saturday 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., TBS
The beloved book by Theodor Geisel, a k a Dr. Seuss, became an equally beloved animated special, featuring narration by Boris Karloff and a memorable performance of the Grinch by Thurl Ravenscroft. This tale of redemption begins with a grouchy creature suffering from a pinched heart, who envies the happy Whos of Whoville — especially their Christmas celebration.
With his dog Max at his side, the Grinch decides to crash the party, only to find out that he was wrong about Christmas — and the Whos — all along.
Pass the Who pudding (recipe here) and the roast beast!
The Wizard of Oz (1939) — Saturday 7 and 9:15 p.m., TBS
Judy Garland is the once and always Dorothy in this cinematic marvel, as the Kansas farmgirl whisked by a tornado into a magical land, where she makes a few friends, at least one enemy, and discovers that all is not as it appears to be.
Based on the American fairy tale written by L. Frank Baum, this is one of the 15 films that the Vatican deemed to be art, in a list released by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in 1995, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of cinema.
It’s a long movie (especially with commercials), and the flying monkeys still give me the willies, but there’s a lot here for families to discuss about friendship, courage, loyalty and not taking things at face value.
Charlotte’s Web (2006) — 9 p.m., Saturday, and 7 p.m. Sunday, Discovery Family Channel
This live-action version of E.B. White’s acclaimed 1951 children’s book may not be the best possible version of the story about the friendship between a farm pig and a barn spider named Charlotte, but it has its moments.
Deacon Greydanus had a mixed reaction:
All in all, Charlotte’s Web is fair family entertainment, though the story would have been better served by a more faithful adaptation — and more inspired direction. The basic appeal of White’s story is sturdy enough to survive the filmmakers’ more dubious choices, and the emotional climax may even leave viewers with a lump in their throat. Even so, I’d rather rewatch the cartoon with my kids, or better yet, reread the book.
Speaking of the 1973 animated version, it can be viewed here.
Holiday Baking Championship: Thanksgiving Genius — Monday, 9 p.m., Food Network
The seven remaining bakers in the reality-competition series must devise a spectacular dessert using a mystery canned fruit, then they must combine two traditional desserts into something entirely new.
As it always does, this show celebrates creativity and inventiveness, and is a merit-based competition that rewards effort and excellence.
See you on Tuesday, with three more family-suitable choices to take you through Thanksgiving Day.
Image: Courtesy 2oth Century Fox