Main cast: Tricia Helfer (Olivia Young Roberts), Marc Blucas (Scott McGuigan), Lisa Durupt (Heather Young), Gabrielle Rose (Jill McGuigan), Benjamin Wosk (Charlie Roberts), Megan Charpentier (Danielle Roberts), Jaeda Lily Miller (Hayes McGuigan), Barclay Hope (General Holt), Chelan Simmons (Becky Fowler), Donna Benedicto (Sara Collins), Link Baker (Paul Hanson), Jill Teed (Kim Clark), and Dee Jay Jackson (Mr Sweeney)
Director: David Weaver
Oh, the things I have to watch on TV during a hospital stay.
Olivia Young Roberts first meets Scott McGuigan at a ski resort when she collides into him. Their kids bond so these two end up spending a wonderful day together. She’s divorcée, he’s a widower, but she makes it clear the moment they meet that she’s not looking for relationships. Because that’s what you say to strangers you are attracted to, it’s perfectly normal. Alas, Scott is an US Army Ranger, and on the morning when they are all supposed to spend Christmas together, he receives the call. He leaves behind a note for Olivia, but you know how it is. She never receives it and assumes that he’s absconded. Well, she did say she’s not looking for relationships, which is exactly the kind of thing emotionally needy, desperate-for-relationships women would say, so who can blame him?
Cut to a year later, our heroine is roped into her employer’s annual charity drive – to organize a toy drive for the military base in Lakewood, Washington. Guess whom is the military liaison she gets paired up with. Scott clears up the matter with her soon enough, and those two are working closely together, much to the delight of their kids. Olivia soon meets all kind of military clichés – pregnant women, mothers, et cetera all of whom are desperately missing their husbands as well as some horribly written kids who would say things only tone-deaf adults will think cute. These are the kids who will tell strangers how they want daddy back home for Christmas and teenagers using “lingo” that have been out of fashion since 2000 – suggesting that scriptwriter Nina Weinman probably hasn’t met, much less talked to, an actual teen in at least twenty years. Actually, judging from how artificial and stilted the lines of every character in this movie are, I won’t be surprised if she hadn’t come into contact with any human being during the two decades as well.
Now, the military porn part can be touching, I must admit. This is a Hallmark movie, so I guess the tearing up part comes with the territory. But if Operation Christmas had been content to just the whole “my noble man is away doing who knows what, but I love him and I keep the home fires burning” thing flow, this movie would be alright. But no, this one wants to be a military propaganda as well, and that’s when the movie completely falls off the rails.
Olivia’s issue is that she feels that she is not cut out for the abrupt departures and the uncertainty of whether Scott will ever come back. Fair enough – this movie remarks a few times that not everyone is cut out for that kind of life. But once Olivia decides that she needs to break up with Scott, oh my god, I swear – the last half hour of this movie is basically character after character (including her children) berating her for giving up when they are not insisting that she must – must! – get back with him because it’s clear that she loves him. This is awful, I feel terrible for Olivia because these people are like a cult, determined to browbeat her until she caves in. Worse, her kids make decisions with Scott behind her back, while Scott turns smug and unlikable, basically telling her that he’s a US Army Ranger so she’d have to deal with it.
If the movie had allowed Olivia to make her own decision, or at least come to the realization that she can be a military wife as this movie clearly wants her to be, this one wouldn’t be so bad. Sure, it’s unbearably cheesy, nobody talks like people here, Tricia Helfer and Marc Blucas have zero chemistry together, the kids are terrifyingly cringe-causing plot devices, and there is plenty of wooden acting to start a new forest, but at least it wouldn’t be as putrid as what this one turned out to be instead: a terrifying movie in which a bunch of creepy women line up to brainwash, blackmail, guilt trip, and emotionally manipulate the heroine into joining their cult.
And to add insult to the injury, the costume department didn’t even bother to make sure that the US Army Rangers are attired properly.
Operation Christmas is fail upon fail all piled up into a hideous disaster even for a Hallmark movie. If you ever see this thing on TV, switch the channel ASAP: even watching static will be healthier for the soul.
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