26th Oct2018

‘Mail Order Monster’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Charisma Carpenter, Josh Hopkins, Madison Horcher, Emma Rayne Lyle, Jeremy Aubrey | Written by Paulina Laguidi, Marc Prey | Directed by Paulina Laguidi

mo-monster-art

I will watch anything that features any of the main cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It actually hasn’t covered too much lately but in the case of Charisma Carpenter it has meant that I have watched a whole lot of average horror movies. But her featuring in a lead role here wasn’t the only reason I wanted to watch Mail Order Monster.

Here, a young girl is having some issues with life. Primarily, a bully at school and her Dad’s new girlfriend. It seems that help might be at hand though when a comic she is reading advertises a ‘Mail Order Monster’, that could be the answer to her problems. Yes, it does sound super cheesy but for a family-friendly movie, it’s also pretty perfect. The only small complaint is that ‘Monster’ doesn’t quite fit with the story but their is a reason it has that title and not ‘Mail Order Robot’.

Maybe I’m not the target audience and have therefore missed them but I don’t think there’s enough fantasy family movies anymore that are routed in some kind of realism. Or ones that have real heart at the base of their story. But this is exactly what Mail Order Monster does. These are real problems that many children (and adults) will be able to relate to – losing somebody close to you and/or being bullied. Both subjects are handled well. It is clear that father and daughter very much miss the mother but as an adult, the father is moving on a little bit quicker. The movie doesn’t try to make any real villains here. The father is a nice, normal guy and his new girlfriend is much the same. It’s refreshing not to see each character have any horrible traits. Even the ‘bully’ soon reveals a sympathetic side.

The cast are all great and very enjoyable. Charisma Carpenter plays the new girlfriend Sydney, and it’s a role she seems much more comfortable in than previous films that I have seen her feature, making it a very natural performance. Josh Hopkins is perfectly cast as the caring dad but the two kids are just as great. Emma Rayne Lyle seems at home playing the bully but then easily has you on her side when things aren’t going so well for her and alongside Madison Horcher as the daughter, Sam, they show some good chemistry. Horcher is fantastic throughout the whole film, super likeable despite not being the perfect child.

The story itself is well written and feels very much at home with the eighties family friendly films I remember loving as a child. From E.T. to Short Circuit to The Goonies. It’s that feel good film that has a story a 10 year old believes might happen if if they’re pretty sure it can’t. I would have fell in love with Mail Order Monster as a ten year old, and even now as a thirty five year old man I couldn’t help but love it. I know it’s far from perfect but sometimes (usually a lazy Sunday) you just need an enjoyable, heart-warming and fun movie that is guaranteed to make you smile – and Mail Order Monster is exactly that.

*** 3/5

Mail Order Monster is released on demand across the US on November 6th.

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