Operation Christmas Drop had me rethinking my somewhat harsh rebuke of Holidate which seems to be doing just fine on Netflix without my endorsement. At least Holidate evoked a reaction. Operation Christmas Drop just… is what it is. A “feel good” holiday romcom devoid of “feels.” There’s nothing particularly terrible about it; it’s simply flat and unaffecting, and the two leads lack the kind of chemistry or cheesy sap that ropes millions into marathon viewings of Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies this time of year. There are literally dozens of new offerings coming down the pike, so you may want to wait for those.
The story itself has a kernel of truth going for it. The US Air Force really does have a longstanding tradition of dropping humanitarian supplies to the islanders of Micronesia (time to pull out those maps!). So the premise had some promise. An uptight, ambitious Congressional aide (Kat Graham) gets sent by her boss (Virginia Madsen) to a US Air Base in the Tropics at Christmastime to find inefficiencies to justify closing the facility. At first, she clashes with her guide, a Captain intent on protecting the base and his pet project, Operation Air Drop. But the Captain (Alexander Ludwig) is a major hottie with a big heart, and soon he is exposing the aide to the joys of the island (snorkeling anyone?) and its residents.
The director and the writers hail from the TV world and it shows. Their list of credits include TV movies like Christmas in the Air, Christmas in Rome, Sweet Mountain Christmas, A Gingerbread Romance, A Twist of Christmas, Christmas at Graceland, Northpole: Open for Christmas… the list really does go on (and on).
Operation Christmas Drop skids off the runway of formulaic predictability, with no effort made for any real character depth or development. It ends with a post script designed to make you feel good about the role of the military in humanitarian efforts. That’s about the only mission this movie accomplished.