[Screen It]


(2020) (Kat Graham, Alexander Ludwig) (Not Rated)

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Drama: A Congressional legislative aide travels to Guam to create a report that might close its U.S. Air Force base and thus shut down a Christmas drop operation run by a military pilot working there.

Erica Miller (KAT GRAHAM) currently works as a legislative aide to Congresswoman Angie Bradford (VIRGINIA MADSEN) but is hoping she might be in the running for the soon-to-be-vacant Chief of Staff position. Thus, when Bradford wants her to travel to Guam right before Christmas, Erica complies. Her assignment is to write up a report that Bradford can use to justify closing Andersen Air Force Base under the Base Realignment and Closure Act rather than one in her own jurisdiction.

Part of the issue is that military cargo pilot Captain Andrew Jantz (ALEXANDER LUDWIG) has been featured in an article about his involvement in the long-running Operation Christmas Drop program that operates from that base, and Bradford doesn't like the optics of that or the notion that tax dollars are being used for it. Upon Erica's arrival, Andrew is assigned to be her liaison, and the two initially clash, with him seeing her as a stuffy workaholic while she views him as too much of a casual wheeler-dealer.

As he continues to show her around the island, her stance begins to soften a bit, especially when she learns what the drop entails for the locals in the region. With her deadline fast approaching, Erica finds herself unsure of how to position her report, especially as chemistry grows between her and Andrew.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10

Before the kick-off and right after the military flyover at a recent Packers-Buccaneers football game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fox Sports broadcasters Troy Aikman and Joe Buck were recorded on a hot mic saying the following:

Aikman: "That's a lot of jet fuel just to do a little flyover."

Buck: "That's your hard-earned money and your tax dollars at work!"

Aikman: "That stuff ain't happening with (a) Kamala-Biden ticket. I'll tell you that right now, partner."

I haven't followed up to check on any comment from Fox regarding that -- and it's unclear if the tone of their voices means they were mocking the military or vocal opponents of such flyovers, but the military quickly responded. In short, they said such events are part of training and don't cost anything above and beyond what's already budgeted.

All of that came to mind while watching "Operation Christmas Drop," a Hallmark type romantic drama flick debuting today on Netflix. In it, Kat Graham plays Erica Miller, a legislative aide to Congresswoman Angie Bradford (Virginia Madsen) who, as part of Base Realignment and Closure Act, needs to find a military base to shut down rather than the one in her own district.

And thanks to a photo of Captain Andrew Jantz (Alexander Ludwig) posing in a Christmas hat in a news article about Operation Christmas Drop that uses military aircraft to drop supplies to nearby islands, Bradford doesn't like the optics of that. Or her belief that taxpayer dollars are paying for it, and thus wants Erica to fly to Andersen Air Force base in Guam and find enough evidence to shut it down.

All of which sets into motion the usual parameters of these sorts of flicks -- the stuffy outsider who arrives with intentions of changing things; the beloved local who thinks the newcomer needs to let loose; the slight antagonism of their first and subsequent dealings with each other; and then a slow warming of that Grinch-like heart and mind as mixed with ever-building romance. Hallelujah! A Christmas miracle!

And a predictable and thus fairly unremarkable offering. Granted, I'll admit I don't watch these sorts of flicks on cable TV, but I know the formula and equally know that my wife loves them. But she likewise found this one rather humdrum as well, so at least I know it's not just me with my critical bah humbug response.

That said, it's pretty innocuous stuff, and if you REALLY love this subgenre, there's enough here from director Martin Wood and writers Gregg Rossen and Brian Sawyer to likely brighten your pre-holiday mood. The leads are certainly attractive enough as are their surroundings, what with the movie being filmed on the real and cinematographically friendly and drop-dead gorgeous island of Guam.

If anything, it should help tourism efforts as well as bring new attention to the real-life Christmas drop that's carried out by the U.S. Department of Defense and has been in operation since 1951, making it their longest-running mission and the longest-running humanitarian airlift in the world. And yes, it serves as needed military training for those involved with any extra expenses covered by sponsorships and donations.

All of which the Congresswoman obviously learns and thus drops the Buck-Aikman style "who's paying for this" sarcasm, right before the initially antagonistic couple formalizes their romance, PG style of course.

While I found the offering pretty but otherwise instantly forgettable, fans of Hallmark-style Christmas romance flicks will likely find enough to fill them with warm and fuzzy holiday cheer. "Operation Christmas Drop" rates as a 5 out of 10.

Reviewed November 3, 2020 / Posted November 6, 2020

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