‘MAIL ORDER MONSTER’ is a science-fiction film for the entire family that is getting a digital release this November. This film tells the story of a young girl named Sam that is still coping with the loss of her mother three-years earlier. She is quiet, she’s bullied at school, and despite a great relationship with her father she doesn’t find it easy to accept his new girlfriend into the family dynamic. Feeling alone she finds friendship in a robot monster she ordered from a comic-book that comes to life during a lightning storm.
Conceptually this plot-line has been done before. There are many tropes along the progression of the narrative that certainly feel familiar. But to counter that, some stories are simply well-built for re-telling. Such as this one. It’s a (kid and their pet) formula much like ‘Pete’s Dragon’ or ‘E.T.’ The recipe also works for relationships inside films like the connection between Chunk and Sloth in ‘The Goonies.’ This character dynamic is always ripe for a new adaptation and when done properly the result, albeit routine, can still pack an emotional punch and without question entertain.
This film entertained. There were some creative angles added to the fabric of the story-line and it created an engaging viewing experience. It’s a great film to watch as a family as the subject matter doesn’t skew too far into the adult area, but can still hold a parent’s attention as their kids enjoy. The story doesn’t aim for theatrics and it explores character dynamics that can generate some healthy family conversations. The family in this movie is like many families. It may be about yours, or one you know of. But regardless the situations these characters go though can easily be related to which creates a natural connection.
The writing was well-crafted and felt natural to the character types. The performances were all very capable and young Madison Horcher as Sam delivered a great portrayal. Child actors can make or break a film. This character needed to deliver some emotional swings that could have easily resulted in some over-acting. Horcher though, felt grounded and comfortable in the role and came across as a natural kid. She wasn’t perfect, but you don’t want her to be. She captured the growth in her character throughout the film nicely and created an effective chemistry with Josh Hopkins that sold them as father and daughter.
This film doesn’t have the budget of others. The look of the robot may not be laced with CGI overlays and it does require some suspension-of-disbelief. But at the same time, it does create a sort of animated, or comic-book feel that comes off much more as quirky in appeal, as opposed to low-budget. I will admit however that the voice-over selection for the robot was a little awkward, and something a little lighter in tone could have resulted in a more enjoyable audible experience. Yet again, it could have also served perfect to some that may appreciate the retro styling of it.
Overall though, it was a fun movie. It showed effort in wanting to be a story with heart and substance and it accomplished just that. The direction was crisp and used a variety of techniques to create splashes of fun visual appeal. It didn’t wear out its welcome with a story that continually progressed and when all was said and done the movie left me with a smile on my face. Making this film a solid choice close-out a fun family night with the kids in front of the television.
Official Film Site