A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
Stands out for positive messages.
What 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.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
Erica Miller (Kat Graham) is sent by her congresswoman boss (Virginia Madsen) to report on the Christmas charity of a military base in Guam to see where costs can be cut in OPERATION CHRISTMAS DROP. Handsome captain Andrew Jantz (Alexander Ludwig) is assigned to escort her during her visit. Despite an immediate romantic attraction, the two find their objectives are at odds. Andrew is the heart and soul of the charity program, which provides donated goods to isolated island communities every Christmas, that Erica has been sent to potentially get defunded. As Andrew initiates her in the vast team effort to pull the donations together, as well as the beauties of Pacific island life, Erica finds herself doubting her initial conclusions. But she knows her boss is expecting a critical report, and there's a promotion at stake as well.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the actual history behind the humanitarian missions depicted in Operation Christmas Drop. How could you learn more?
Can you locate Guam and Micronesia on a map? Where could you go to find more information about these places?
Andrew says a military motto is "service before self." Why is this an important principle? Can you think of a time when you put the needs of others before your own? How did it make you feel?
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