Sam (Madison Horcher) is a pre-teen girl who witnessed her mother die in a car accident. Three years after the tragedy she is faced with the reality of her father remarrying and she is troubled by thoughts of a new person replacing her mum. To compound matters she is persistently tormented by a school bully. Things change when she discovers a clip-out advertisement on the back of a comic book and sends away for a mail-order monster. The delivery finally arrives in a big create and is revealed to be a life-sized robot, which comes to life and assumes a protective role.
And so the story goes... part E.T., part Iron Giant, MAIL ORDER MONSTER adheres to a tried and true formula and presents an inspiring fantasy for impressionable kids. The film's aesthetic is often uneven, with strong cinematography often at odds with a lack-lustre production design. There are moments which boast a strong theatrical appeal, which are – unfortunately – countered by a distinct made-for-DVD texture. These factors will more than likely elude the movie's target demographic and what remains is an effective coming of age story, cut from a familiar cloth.
Madison Horcher offers a reliable performance in the movie's lead role, and her ability to tap into a variety of emotions help to elevate the move beyond its restrictive DTV status. The robot character is well conceived, baring a striking resemblance to the Iron Giant, and its presence and characteristics are more akin to the robot from the rebooted Lost In Space series. In fact the relationship between robot and child is almost identical.
With a welcome running time of approximately 80-minutes, and a delightful musical score helping to overcome the movie's shortcomings, MAIL ORDER MONSTER makes for an overall satisfying and nostalgic dramatic adventure. In today's home-entertainment climate being bombarded with content, movies like this tend to get lost in the fold. Fewer people are turning to DVD, which forces this stuff onto streaming services. And with such a cluster of choices, movies like this are easily hidden amongst it all. With a little luck its poster-art will catch the attention of kids, and hopefully those who review it can hang their adult receptors at the door and watch it with a child's mind.