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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids can learn about the history behind the US military's longest-running humanitarian mission in the Pacific, as well as the strategic military base in Guam.
"Service before self." "Pay it forward." Communities come together to help those who have less or are struggling. Sometimes our initial impressions of a person or a project can be misleading, so it pays to delve deeper.
Positive Role Models
The two main characters are both hardworking professionals and also exceptionally generous people. The military personnel in the film all volunteer their free time for the humanitarian mission, which serves communities in need through an elaborate network of fundraising, organizing, and teamwork. Women can be leaders, including in the military and the government. Congressional and military staff are diverse racially, and interracial couples are portrayed as a norm, but everyone celebrates Christmas. Pacific Islanders are mostly background characters. At times the movie glosses over the local Micronesian communities, using people, traditions, and costumes as exotic backdrop.
Violence & Scariness
Andersen Air Force Base in Guam is a military outpost with fighter jets at the ready. Erica's mom passed away three years earlier. A typhoon knocked out the internet connection for an island village, meaning kids could no longer connect to online school. The islands are often at the mercy of weather conditions.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman refers to a man as "eye candy." Andrew and Erica flirt, dance, and eventually kiss.
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Products & Purchases
US Military. US Congress. Camaro, Jeep. Kool-Aid. Mac. The film's main message is that Christmas is about giving selflessly, not the expensive gifts that Erica is buying for her boss in an opening scene.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine and beer at dinners and events. Andrew orders a "cranberry and soda" at a bar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Operation Christmas Drop is a gentle holiday romance with positive messages about serving others and providing for those less fortunate. Military families and buffs will appreciate the real-life history behind the service's humanitarian missions to get donated goods to isolated island communities every Christmas, as well as the portrayal of hardworking, upstanding soldiers who embody the principles of "service over self" and teamwork. The romance at the film's core involves mild flirtation, compliments, a dance, and one eventual kiss. Language is limited to "damn" and a little teasing. The film has timely holiday messages about the joys of giving, gratitude, and selflessness. However, although the bulk of the movie takes place in Guam, Pacific Islanders are mostly present as background characters. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Operation Christmas Drop is a family-friendly romance, military propaganda, and holiday message all wrapped into one island paradise package. There's an obvious nostalgia here about the U.S. military doing good in the world that's well received by locals. To drive home the message, the film was shot on location in Guam with support and cameos from the military and surrounding community. Some may read a savior complex into the story, and in its single-minded focus, the film does largely gloss over the local Micronesian communities, using people, traditions, and costumes as exotic backdrop.
The soldiers represent a diverse group racially but apparently not religiously. Be prepared for lines like "It's time to lay your Christmas cards on the table." Despite it all, if what you're looking for is family-friendly Christmas fare, you've got it here, and in a gorgeous setting to boot. The film's predictability, from the lead couple's love interest to the last-minute storm and congresswoman's arrival that both threaten the Christmas deliveries (leaving characters to, you guessed it, "hope for a Christmas miracle"), makes it an easy and pleasant watch.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.