And also, the used hairbrush.
Last week, Netflix dropped Operation Christmas Drop, a Hallmarkmoviechannel-esque rom com set and filmed on Guam. Seeing as I a) love cheesy holiday movies, and b) am always homesick, I happily put the movie on. I was eager to see my home island depicted on my television screen and hopeful for a good old-fashioned, romantic balati fight on film.
The premise that Andersen Air Force base would ever be considered for a shutdown— well, already we know that we must suspend our disbelief. Guam has long been valued for its strategic location in the Pacific. Would some random mainland politician shut down the base, because its airmen drop off presents to neighboring islands as part of a long-standing humanitarian program? Yea, no.
Realistic plotline: congresswoman considers closing Andersen for a split second, decides against it, and does not send her assistant to Guam. End of movie.
Shaky story and plot devises aside, Operation Christmas Drop really treated us with a glorious, gummy-looking CGI gecko that looked like it was put on the wall with a Snapchat filter. That boy was straight out of the original Crash Bandicoot. This gecko was brightly colored, brilliant green and blue, and NEVER BEFORE SEEN ON THE ISLAND. He was ~editorialized~ for aesthetic. This gecko was the Scarlett Johansson of geckos. You’re telling me that they couldn’t have hired an authentic, local gecko for this role? A spotty, brown one? Or a translucent-skinned one with visible guts? Gecko representation matters. That gecko had me losing my mind.
Now let’s talk cringe. One particular scene stood out to me. It was one where Kat Graham’s character visits one of the islands, and she is informed that, because of a recent typhoon, the children could not attend virtual class as their internet connectivity had been ruined. So moved was Kat Graham’s character that she felt the need to start offering random items from her purse to the children. Markers. A used hairbrush. Various used scrunchies. And then, her whole ass purse.
Imagine those girls being like, "Ummm, not sure what gave you the impression that we would want any of this, but ...”
”But it’s a hairbrush, it’s very useful! You use it to untangle your hair.”
”Ma’am, this is used and unhygienic.”
”You’re welcome, girls. Or should I say, ‘Boo-en proobeechoo.’”
The girls offer her a dried starfish as a token of their appreciation, and she’s like, “THE DIFFERENCE I HAVE MADE.” She looks over at Bjorn, I mean, Alexander Ludwig’s character, and all of her grinchiness just melts away. Sometimes you just gotta throw in a touch of white saviorism to demonstrate character development.
And one more thing! During a fiesta fundraiser called “A Coconut Christmas” (duh), our main characters note that none of the attendees are getting jiggy with it. Cool, they’re about to bust out some J Boog or the classic “Cha Cha Slide” to get everyone moving, right?
Dead wrong. What do they play? Some pirate ass music with a violin. I’ve been away from the island for a while now, but I would still estimate that zero percent of islanders do not default to riverdancing when they party.
What I did love about this movie though, was seeing the local talent they showcased. It’s heartwarming to see people of Guam shine on screen. In the future, I hope to ask more frequently, “Hey, isn’t that so-and-so’s auntie’s best friend’s cousin’s niece on tv?” Let’s see more brown faces in media.
So if you want to see shots of Guam, looking all lush and sexy, put the movie on. But don’t expect to swoon or see an all-encompassing cultural masterpiece. Pair with some Chamorro Chip Cookies your aunty sent you in a care package. Or a $15 chicken kelaguen lunch plate from the only Chamorro food truck in your area. Or up the ante and take shots of finadene every time something offends you. Maybe next time Netflix can partner with Chris Malafunkshun. I, for one, would love to see Sirena 2000 (2021?) come to life on my tv screen.