Monster Trucks PG
Literally putting the monster in Monster Trucks, this amiable kid adventure has Lucas Till play Tripp, a teenager tipping away at building his own monster truck when he discovers a weird octopus/blob-like sea creature guzzling oil in his scrap yard. Local oil company Terravex, run by Rob Lowe, drilled too deep and unearthed a hitherto undiscovered species, a finding they endeavour to keep secret as it will endanger drilling rights in the area. But Tripp isn’t willing to give up the creature because it can power his dead truck when wrapped around the axle…
Monster Trucks has fun with its eighties Disney movie vibe, complete with an all-powerful company hell bent on stopping a boy and his alien, the corporate scientist (Thomas Lennon) who sees the error of his ways, and the school swot (Levy) who gets roped into the adventure. But there are moments when it plays around with the formula: Barry Pepper, the local sheriff, is Tripp’s stepdad but he isn’t the bully he’s initially made out to be; Tripp’s loser dad (Frank Whalley) doesn’t come good as expected, and there’s real menace and meanness to Terravex’s head of security (Holt McCallany). Mum Amy Ryan is all but forgotten, though, and Rob Lowe doesn’t have a lot to do.
In his first live action outing director Chris Wedge (Ice Age, Epic, Robots) is right in thinking that the age group this is pitched at will in all likelihood care not a jot about trucks with big wheels. He keeps the Monster Trucks off screen for the most part – Monster Trucks has as much to do with trucks jumping over other trucks as Battleship had to do with the game – before finally giving in in the third act. When the monster trucks do finally come into play it feels like a reluctant acceptance, like Wedge is embarrassed to have to include the silly-looking vehicles: he’s more interested in the romance between Levy and Till and friendship between Tripp and the creature that, while comes nowhere near the level of engagement Elliot had with ET, is touching.
It can feel at times too that it was a story welded together, as if there was a Monster Trucks screenplay knocking around and someone had the bright idea to marry it to this small story about a teen and an alien; writer Derek Connolly (Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World) does what he can to iron out the creases.
Review by Gavin Burke | 14:15 | Monday 26th December 2016 | Movie Review