My family was vacationing at a condo a while back when I stumbled upon a shocking fact about my young sons: They enjoyed Hallmark movies.
They were 10 and 6 at the time and were drawn to the cheerful storylines, scenic landscapes and always-happy endings. I also enjoyed them, but for another big reason: Hallmark movies promoted the biblical values of chastity, selflessness and love.
That was three years ago. Since then, Hallmark has followed the culture’s lead in promoting unbiblical relationships as normative. (“The Holiday Sitter,” its first movie about a same-sex “romance,” debuts in December.)
This brings me to the subject of alternatives to Hallmark. I’ve tried several different Hallmark-like services in recent months before settling on my favorite: Great American Family (formerly GAC Family).
Launched in 2021 by former Hallmark executive Bill Abbott, Great American Family’s romantic movies have the same look and feel of Hallmark movies — they always have a happy ending and are family-friendly. They also have many of the same actors and actresses like Candace Cameron Bure, Danica McKellar, Jen Lilley, Daniel Lissing and Trevor Donovan.
As for the movie quality, Great American Family films are as good as those on Hallmark, if not better. They’re also original. Great American Family debuted new movies this summer and fall and launched its Great American Christmas holiday programming event Oct. 21, with new Christmas-themed movies premiering every Saturday and Sunday through the end of the year.
Abbott has bemoaned the lack of family programming on television.
“If you look in the last 20 years, it’d be real hard to find a show that you can watch in its entirety with your family and not have some point that would make you uncomfortable if you’re with a 10-year-old,” he said during an interview on the podcast Up Next with John Contratti.
Abbott wants Great American Family to help fill that void and to be “relentlessly family friendly.”
So far, it is.
Great American Family is available on DirectTV, Dish, cable outlets and streaming services such as FRNDLY. Visit greatamericanfamily.com.
Also worth watching this month:
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Prime) — The prequel to “The Lord of the Rings” movies and books follows a young elf named Galadriel in her quest to rid Middle Earth of evil. Scheduled for five seasons, “The Rings of Power” is based on the appendices in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels. So far it’s mostly family friendly. Due to frightening images and violence, it’s likely best for older children. VidAngel and Clearplay offer filters.
Patterns of Evidence: Journey to Mount Sinai, Part 1 (Theaters) — Filmmaker and Christian explorer Tim Mahoney visits the Middle East to examine the biblical, geographical and archaeological evidence for the Israelites’ exodus to Mt. Sinai. (Mahoney affirms biblical inerrancy.) Part 1 launches in theaters Oct. 17–18, with Part 2 opening in theaters in February. Visit PatternsofEvidence.com to learn more.
Legacy Peak (Pureflix) — An adventurous man attempts to impress his girlfriend’s children with a trip to a remote location, only to find himself in survival mode after his small plane is forced to make an emergency landing. “Legacy Peak” stars Lucas Black (“NCIS: New Orleans” and “The Fast and the Furious” series), who told me he hopes the film encourages and inspires men to be better fathers.
Pinocchio (Disney Plus) — A woodworking widower creates a marionette to resemble the son he wishes he had, only to see the puppet come to life upon a visit from a fairy. This live-action film is a recreation of the 1940 classic and includes solid lessons about love, family and individual conscience. I told my kids, the law indeed is written on our hearts — Romans 2:15 — although our hearts are also tainted by sin and not infallible. Rated PG for peril/scary moments, rude material and some language.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and entertainment for more than 15 years. He is the husband to Julie and the father of four young children.