“I’m dreaming of a BRAC Christmas,” said no one ever. But on Nov. 5, Netflix decided to release the movie “Operation Christmas Drop,” a film that sets its sights high but ultimately crashes and burns.
The romantic comedy centers around a workaholic congressional staffer named Erica (Kat Graham), who is sent to Guam on behalf of her boss, a congresswoman with the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, to shut Andersen Air Force Base down.
The reason? One plucky Air Force captain named Andrew (Alexander Ludwig) was pictured in a newspaper article with a Santa hat after carrying out a “Christmas Drop” mission.
Bases are traditionally shut down by this commission if their corresponding missions are either deemed non-essential or built in areas no longer seen as strategic footholds. Anderson, a forward operating base in the Pacific strategically necessary for both the Air Force and the Navy, is still pretty vital, however.
So, why would a congresswoman want to shut it down? Because taxpayers evidently hate Christmas drops, especially ones that provide humanitarian relief to Pacific islands.
Now, despite the fact that the defense budget fiscal year kicks off in October, Erica must give up Christmas at home with her father and travel 36 hours just to structure a report that details how a single, annual “Christmas Drop” wastes piles of taxpayer money.
Because of this, Congress can’t justify keeping the base operational. This cash hemorrhaging operation would have never been discovered had it not been for a solitary news article featuring Andrew, who one staffer refers to simply as “Maj. Eye Candy.” That’s captain Eye Candy to you.
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When Erica arrives in Guam, she is greeted at the beach by a swimsuit-clad Andrew, because of course, who has just finished up a surf session. Andrew then drives Erica around, telling her all about the island’s tight-knit community and the humanitarian role the Air Force plays there.
Andrew also shares that his call sign is CLAWS, not Claus though, because that would be too on the nose.
After sharing his Hallmark movie of a callsign, Andrew shows her to her quarters, home of the world’s worst CGI gecko, which is apparently meant to bring Erica good luck.
Erica later begins the arduous process of visiting base facilities and counting beans. Toward the end of her inspection tour, Andrew takes her to the Christmas drop warehouse, where it’s revealed that everything associated with Operation Christmas Drop is accomplished through donation only and conducted during flight training, so the hours are already budgeted.
And yet, Erica’s tough exterior fails to commence melting in the warm Guam sun, nor from the puppy dog looks Andrew is constantly shooting her way.
That is, until he takes her by helicopter to one of the islands in the Federated States of Micronesia.
There, Erica finally softens her tone upon learning that the island relies heavily on the charity of the Christmas drop to survive. Furthermore, the children who live there believe the gifts come from Santa Claus.
Erica joins in the fun in one particularly cringeworthy scene, offering two little girls the contents of her purse before giving them the entire bag, saying, “You can put your seashells in it.”
Andrew then sings a Kumbaya Christmas song accompanied by a ukulele, causing Erica to fall in love on the spot.
Shortly thereafter, it is revealed that his call sign is an acronym for “Can’t Leave Anyone Without Santa.”
Erica’s googly eyes are now the size of basketballs, because there’s nothing more attractive than a Santa-obsessed grown man.
Without giving away any major spoilers, the Grinchy congresswoman eventually comes around, and our two main characters share a first kiss under some Christmas light-strewn palm trees.
Ultimately, the best part of the movie comes early on in the film, when a random junior enlisted airman — seen sporting a glowbelt as an actual belt — confesses that the thing she’ll miss most at Christmas is her Camaro back home, which one can only assume was financed at 28 percent APR, which is coincidentally the same percentage of interest a viewer should have in finishing this movie.
Bad tidings to all.
About Sarah Sicard
Sarah Sicard is the Digital Editor of Military Times. She previously served as Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, Defense News, Fast Company, Business Insider and AdWeek.