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Review of Operation Christmas Drop,’ Netflix movie for the coming holiday season

Operation Christmas Drop by Mario E. Bautista Roselle honest about fears on MMFF 2020 ROSELLE Monteverde of Regal Entertainment talks about their coming filmfest entry, "Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan", and their hit BL series, "Ben X Jim". She tells us at the birthday celebration of Malou Fagar that she’s not sure if their entry accepted for the coming Metro-Manila Filmfest, the horror drama “Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan” will make it to the deadline of the screening committee. The movie is based on the hit novel by Bob Ong (who also wrote the screenplay) and stars Joshua Garcia, Angie Ferro and Ricky Davao. “Hindi pa tapos ang post-production kasi 'yung lab na ginagamit namin, isinara ng barangay,” she says. “May isang director daw na hindi nagma-mask, kaya nahawa lahat ng tauhan doon so it was closed down for health reasons. Isa pa, our director, Chito Rono, parang ayaw na ring sumali sa festival kung sa online lang ipalalabas at hindi sa mga sinehan.” We heard even other producers are now lukewarm to the idea of showing their filmfest entries online, simply because there are no viewers. One producer told us: “Ayaw kasi magbayad ng mga Pinoy. 'Yung ini-release ng ABS-CBN online na ‘U-Turn’ with Kim Chiu, kakaunti lang ang nanood online.” Another producer also told us that even other streaming sites have comparatively few views. “Maski nga ang Netflix, big hit all over the world pero lowest viewership in Asia dito sa Pilipinas, kumpara sa subscribers nila in other Asian countries. Mas gusto pa rin ng mga Pinoy manood ng libre sa Youtube. Kaya 'yung idea ng filmfest online, it will not work here.” We heard that even the very popular BL series these days have very few viewership once they charge their customers, only those exhibited for free online get thousands of hits, like “Gameboys”. But Roselle has reason to rejoice since her own BL series shown on Regal’s site is a blockbuster hit in terms of viewership. This is “Ben X Jim“, written and directed by Easy Ferrer and starring Jerome Ponce and Teejay Marquez. It’s now on its 4th episode and is getting more than a million hits per episode. Teejay is Ben and Jerome is Jim. They used to be neighbors but Jerome’s family has relocated to Davao. Teejay works as an online seller and obviously has a big crush on Jerome, who returns to Manila after so many years of stay in Davao. They’re both good in their respective roles and they have engaging chemistry, so we’re not surprised the show is now the most watched BL series on air. They get very good support from Ron Martin Angeles as Olan, the hunky courier with whom Teejay is obviously attracted, and Johannes Rissler as Leo, Teejay’s ex-boyfriend who wants to reconcile with him. This is Teejay's biggest role to date and the role is tailor made for him. The show is obviously a success as it has many ads within. This is more successful than any of the recent films shown by Regal. Billy turns into noontime Sta. Claus BILLY Crawford is considered a Santa Claus by lots of viewers of “Lunch Out Loud” simply because he gives away so many big prizes in the Pwera Usog portion of the daily lunch time show produced by Brightlight Productions for TV5. He should also be commended for always being so full of contagious energy as the new lunchtime show’s main host. So many folks have already won the more than P100,000 jackpot cash prize and the latest one is a guy named Tatay Manuel who took home P115,000 plus all the precious items he was able to guess correctly during the game. Christmas really came early for these lucky contestants. Now, several folks are texting Billy personally requesting him to choose them and call their number during the show so they can be the next lucky contestant. Viewers also praise the good comic rapport between the other hosts, notably K Brosas, Bayani Agbayani, Alex Gonzaga, Macoy Dubs, and the rest. “It feels really good to be part of a show na naghahatid ng sobrang saya at maraming papremyo sa ating viewers,” says Billy, who’s now called by everyone Daddy Bills, which is how he’s addressed in the show. “Ang saya lang kasi talagang araw-araw, tuluy-tuloy ang ligaya at umaapaw ang cash prizes. Walang prank-prank sa amin, basta bigayan agad ng premyo, kaya tumutok lang kayo araw-araw pagdating ng alas dose ng tanghali nang makasalo ninyo kami while you’re having lunch.”
Operation Christmas Drop

CHRISTMAS is fast approaching and Netflix has already released its annual Christmas presentations and we’ve seen one of them, “Operation Christmas Drop” (the other one is “Holidate”). “Christmas Drop” is a romcom based on a yearly humanitarian mission of the US Air Force that airdrops presents into various Micronesian Islands during the Christmas season.

We’re a sucker for Christmas films and there’s an entire genre of movies set during the holiday season. We’ve seen the original “Ang Pagsilang ng Mesiyas”, the local film made in the 50s about the nativity with Norma Blancaflor as the Virgin Mary, and also etched in our memory were the Nida-Nestor Eastman color films made by LVN Pictures for the holiday season, like “Ikaw Kasi”, “Tingnan Natin”, “Casa Grande”, sadly none of which has an existing copy now.

Last year, we enjoyed “Last Christmas” with our grand children who got afflicted with the last song syndrome singing its catchy theme song after we saw the movie. It’s a combination love story and whimsy that critics tore to pieces, but we guess most of these people are now so acerbic that if you’d just show the well loved Christmas classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, today, they’d also find it silly.

Believe it or not, there are so many Christmas films that made us cry, even “Home Alone” when the old curmudgeon who’s a neighbor of Macaulay Culkin finally reunites with his estranged family. Our list includes “Meet Me in St. Louis” (we still feel so melancholic each time we watch Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”), “Jack Frost” (about a dad who comes back as snow man), “Love Actually” (cheesy but endearing ensemble romcom with multiple stories), “The Apartment” (Jack Lemmon is unforgettable in a story of love and loneliness on Christmas), “A Christmas Carol” (there are many versions by this classic Dickens tale, even one with the Muppets, but the best for us is the 1951 British version) and “The Miracle on 34th St.” (Santa Claus is put to trial with Natalie Wood as the lead child actress, this has been remade).

“Operation Christmas Drop” is about a congressional aide, Erica Miller (Kat Graham), who is ordered by her boss Congresswoman Angie Bradford (Virginia Madsen), to go to a tropical island just a few days before Christmas. Her mission is to gather data that will be used as evidence to close down a U.S. Air Force base situated there to help slash military expenditures.

In charge to entertain her is Capt. Andrew Jantz (Alexander Ludwig), a pilot whose pet project is Operation Christmas Drop. At first, but naturally, they clash, they bicker, but of course, it’s predictable that, in the course of her stay in the island and with the amiable captain escorting her, Erica is bound to change her mindset.

She is able to let her hair down, she goes snorkelling in crystal blue waters with the captain, meets the charming natives and realizes that the real timeless message of Christmas is serving those who are in need. It’s easy to see that Erica and the captain will fall in love with each other. It’s all part of the miracle that is Christmas, isn’t it?

The movie is sweet and easily digestible with likable leads in an interracial romance. Kat Graham (“Vampire Diaries”) is a lovely African-American actress with a winning smile while Alexander Ludwig (Cato in “The Hunger Games” and Bjorn in the long-running series “Vikings”) is a big blonde hunk that reminds us of the likes of Tab Hunter and Troy Donahue in the 60s.

It’s also a big plus that the movie gets to display the beauty of the island of Guam and its surroundings islands and beautiful beaches, instead of a White Christmas. It also shows that the U.S. Air Force is truly benevolent and caring. So, mission accomplished, everyone!

Publication Source :    People's Journal
Mario Bautista
Former member: Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Urian)