Sometimes I feel like I'm losing the fight to protect my kids from bad language, extreme violence, and the other inappropriate content that crops up in a lot of today's movies. And because they know how to access the Netflix account, it's increasingly hard to filter out the stuff I don't think they're ready for.
SpiritClips, recently acquired by Hallmark, offers a selection of family-friendly movies, documentaries, and shorts for streaming to Android devices, iOS devices, PCs, and various media boxes (namely Boxee, Roku, and NeoTV). It's an interesting Hulu/Netflix alternative, one that should appeal to families seeking more wholesome entertainment.
The service offers a hand-picked collection of Hollywood classics, Hallmark Hall of Fame movies (which, incidentally, are available exclusively here), SpiritClips Original short films, and documentaries.
The Hollywood lineup include some real gems: "Fly Away Home," "Hope and Glory," "Life is Beautiful" (though I have qualms about calling that one "family-friendly"), and "Rudy," to name a few. Although some selections are already available on Netflix, SpiritClips edits them so they have the equivalent of a PG rating (if they didn't already). That's how they're able to include the excellent "Good Will Hunting," which has more than its share of four-letter words.
I especially like some of the animated shorts you can find here, including Academy Award winners like "Head Over Heels" and "The Lost Thing."
I tested SpiritClips on an AT&T iPhone 4S and Verizon Galaxy S4. It worked fine on the former, but the Android app (which hasn't been updated since January) seemed ill-fitted to the S4's screen, like it was slightly zoomed for some reason. Thus it was difficult to access various menus and buttons. What's more, it lacks a search option, and doesn't offer all the same content as the iOS version. According to a company rep, an Android update is in the works.
SpiritClips costs $4.99 per month, which seems a little steep when you consider that Netflix provides an exponentially larger library for $7.99. However, if you prepay for a year, the cost drops to $35.99, or $2.99 per month -- about what you'd pay for a single DVD rental from your local video store.
Ultimately, the service gives you a nice helping of movies you can watch with the whole family, without concerns about inappropriate language, violence, or sexual content. If you're not quite sold, you can test-drive SpiritClips free for a week. Then hit the comments and let me know what you think.
Deals found on The Cheapskate are subject to availability, expiration, and other terms determined by sellers.
Curious about what exactly The Cheapskate does and how it works? Read our FAQ.