Mail Order Monster is a family film that examines love and loss with a focus on a young girl named Sam. After a series of events Sam finds herself being bullied at school and with no one that she truly feels she can call a friend. On top of that her dad is trying to move to the next level with his girlfriend, which is forcing Sam to think about life with a step-mom. With all of this going on Sam finds herself looking for friendship within a comic book ad for a Mail Order Monster, who she thinks might be able to fix everything.
The movie starts with images that appear as though they are from a comic book, which is a fitting touch considering where Sam finds solace later on in the story. A slightly younger Sam and her then best friend PJ are playing in the back seat of a car when suddenly an accident occurs. This moment takes Sam’s mother away from her and when we are brought into the present roughly 4 years have passed. Sam is still struggling to accept the loss and while coping with her grief she and PJ stopped being friends. Instead PJ is bullying Sam and while her dad doesn’t initially notice, his girlfriend Sydney does. As she tries to connect with Sam she finds her a gift that seems perfect, a comic book all about a young scientist. Within this comic is the add for a Mail Order Monster or MOM. In a moment of intense stress Sam decides to mail away for the monster and becomes fixated on bringing it to life, especially once she learns her dad wants to marry Sydney.
What makes Mail Order Monster such a touching film is the dynamic that emerges between Sydney and Sam. While yes, Sam is strongly connected to her father and wants to keep everything the same, she still has been at least trying to be nice to Sydney. The two are trying to connect, but it isn’t until something very dangerous happens involving Sam and MOM that the two cement their relationship. Charisma Carpenter, who I foundly recognized as Cordelia from Buffy and Angel, does an excellent job of playing the character of Sydney. In this role she has to balance a number of emotions towards Sam and Sam’s father. She also has a bit of a Buffy-esque moment in this movie, but you’ll have to watch it to find out just what happens. You can find out more about Mail Order Monster on their official website.
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