'Operation Christmas Drop' Brings Loveable Holiday Cheer and Smug Militarism

Directed by Martin Wood

Starring Kat Graham, Alexander Ludwig, Virginia Madsen, Janet Kidder, Jeffrey Joseph

BY Alex HudsonPublished Nov 6, 2020

As America struggles to uphold democracy and the incumbent president attempts to block votes against him from being counted, here's a Christmas rom-com about how the Air Force is great.

Operation Christmas Drop takes its name from a real-life humanitarian mission in which planes airdrop presents onto Micronesian islands each Christmas. It's a nice idea, even if it's hard to overlook the subtext of imperialism and the glorification of the military.

Erica (Kat Graham) is an overworked congressional aide who misses Christmas in order to fly to Guam at the behest of a congresswoman (Virginia Madsen) who is hoping to close the Air Force base responsible for the yuletide airdrops. Closing overseas American military bases frankly sounds like a great idea, but here it's presented as if it's a bad thing, and we're supposed to be rooting for the hunky Captain Andrew Jantz (Alexander Ludwig) as he makes the case for the base's strategic importance against "hostile actors."

As Erica arrives in Guam in her high heels, she's presented as something between the Grinch and Reese Witherspoon in an early '00s movie: uptight, high-maintenance and out of her depth. She has her hair tied back into a bun, which is how you know she's not much fun. Despite Andrew's patronizing charm, Erica is skeptical that America needs this Micronesian military base packed to the brim with twinkle lights and warheads.

As a smug self high five about the benevolence of America's military, Operation Christmas Drop is hard to swallow, particularly in light of America's grim current political predicament. But as a retro rom-com about holiday cheer, it's a decently sweet Christmas bonbon. (At the very least, it's not the ickiest Christmas rom-com to arrive on Netflix within the past week.) It's hard to imagine a better way to set up a cute holiday date than "Wait, you've never been Christmas snorkelling?" The horrible renditions of Christmas carols will spread embarrassment chills rather than cheer, but they add to the film's loveable Hallmark cheesiness.

Over the course of these 90 minutes, Erica quite literally lets her hair down. Her flip from buzzkill to merrymaker happens absurdly fast, but it's good news for viewers — at the least, it's a lot more fun watching Erica and Andrew wholesomely frolicking on the beach for Christmas than it is being bashed over the head with warm and cuddly military propaganda. With its argument that Christmas should be spent serving those in need, Operation Christmas Drop's heart is mostly in the right place.

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