Oh jeesh. I guess someone took this concept a little too literal. I think from the moment this movie’s trailer hit theatres, it was being labeled as the first predicted bomb of the year. Gee, can’t imagine why. As you can tell, I’m not thrilled. It looks dumb, it looks stupid, hell, it looks like another “boy and his dog” type movie. Or even a horrible knock-off of E.T. (1982). What a wonderful combination!
So let’s take a look at this cast. Starring is Lucas Till. Poor dude. You’d think having played Havoc in all three of the most recent X-Men films would jet him into much better opportunities. Instead, he gets to be in some pretty panned films like PARANOIA (2013) and THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM (2016). It’s like for every hit film that he does, he has a flop just creeping around the corner. What gives? Till, you need fire your agent, dude. Alongside him, we also have Jane Levy. Building up a reputation for being primarily in horror films like EVIL DEAD (2013) and DON’T BREATHE (2016). Both films were popular with most audiences and critics. She was even in the popular TV show SUBURGATORY. She’s clearly a talented actress and knows her stuff. So… what desperation put her in here? My deepest condolences, Levy. Also blackmailed into this, we have Rob Lowe (TV movie THE LION GUARD: RETURN OF THE ROAR , TV shows PARKS AND REC and CALIFORNICATION), Danny Glover (ALMOST CHRISTMAS , the Lethal Weapon movies, and ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD ), and Amy Ryan (THE INFILTRATOR , GOOSEBUMPS , and BIRDMAN ). You poor saps…
Now for behind the scenes. Directing is famed voice of everyone’s favorite animated prehistoric acorn-obsessed sabretooth squirrel (or whatever he is) Scrat, from the Ice Age movies, Chris Wedge. I suppose in retrospect, I don’t hate his work. I’ve seen ICE AGE (2002), as well as both EPIC (2013) and ROBOTS (2005), and though I don’t remember much of those two, I remember them being… solid, competent animated films, but I always feel a little itch in the back of neck when I hear a director of animated films is making his foray into live-action. Sure, Brad Bird did great with MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (2011), but… yeah, why pick this one to be your live-action debut? I guess everyone starts somewhere, right? Still, where’s the creative possibilities here? Penning the script is Derek Connelly. While not the most seasoned of writers, having only written two feature films, he’s still a pretty accomplished one having written SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (2012), and the powerhouse hit JURASSIC WORLD (2015). He’s also got some pretty sweet gigs lined up for the future, having written KONG: SKULL ISLAND due out this year, the Jurassic World sequel due out 2018 (Calling it, it’s going to be titled “Jurassic Battlefield.” Boy, wouldn’t that be awful?), and is surprisingly attached to write STAR WARS EPISODE IX, due out 2019. I don’t know about that one, but one film at a time. Composing the music is David Sardy, known for SABOTAGE (2014), GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE (2011), and ZOMBIELAND (2009). Finally the cinematographer is Don Burgess, known for THE CONJURING 2 (2016), the two most recent Muppets movies, and TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (2003). Now that’s a career that’s gone all over the place.
Overall, yeah, not looking forward to this, but hey, with luck… I won’t get stupider watching it.
This is my honest opinion of MONSTER TRUCKS.
Tripp (Lucas Till) is a high school kid. He has a job working at the junkyard and has a knack for rebuilding cars, specifically a monster truck he’s been working on for awhile. His parents are divorced and his mom is dating a police sheriff named Rick (Barry Pepper) whom he doesn’t get along with. However, one day, everything changes. An oil-drilling company irresponsibly drills too far and accidentally releases three subterranean creatures. Two of them are captured by the company but the other escapes and makes its way to Tripp’s junkyard. Though their initial meeting is met with confusion and fear, they soon strike up a kind of friendship, and even names the creature Creech. Creech ends up taking a liking to Tripp’s truck and acts as a kind of engine to make it run. But soon, the company’s henchmen track them down and begins an adventure to keep Creech safe and figure out how to get him home.
My best friend wants to slap me right now, so I might as well rip off the band-aide now. I DON’T HATE THIS MOVIE! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not good. It’s bad. But I don’t think it was trying to be good. I don’t think it was intended to be anything more than what it is; a silly idea meant to entertain kids. Junk-food cinema. And as junk-food cinema is concerned, it’s… fun…ish.
Let’s start with Till. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him in a role that showcased his talent. In the X-Men movies, he barely has a line. Although his role in THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM was his most prominent, it was a badly written character, and therefore translated into a bad performance. By no means his fault, but… there you have it. Also, I haven’t seen him in the newly rebooted TV show MACGYVER, so I can’t say how he is there. This was not a great starting point to showcase whatever talent he’s hiding. But again, I think everyone knew what this movie was, so there wasn’t a need to try hard.
Even Lowe is disturbingly downplayed. While I won’t say I see him in much beyond PARKS AND REC, he’s subtly hilarious in how passionately deadpan his line reads are and he was so enjoyable to watch. If you’re going to make Lowe a bad guy, he needs to be played up like a bad James Bond villain. Instead, his performance is like he’s trying too hard, which works against him making him pretty forgettable, sadly.
About the character that was genuinely enjoyable was Levy. I wouldn’t know how to explain it either. Meredith has probably the biggest lady-boner for Tripp and is almost comically teenage, in that you see this behavior from a boy-crazy thirteen year old girl, not a young adult. But her reactions and acting is so adorable that it comes off as funny. I feel like in anyone else’s hands, the character would be wasted and creepy. While that’s still the case here, I mean, she tracks him down to where he works in a dress to propose watching a TV show or something, but Levy is so precious. It’s almost like a reverse Lowe; Levy knew how bad the role was, but did her best to make it so over-the-top that it worked in her favor. I liked her if nothing else.
Well, I can’t pretend that everything is excused. Creech basically looks like if sharktopus was a Nickelodeon cartoon character, the idea that it’s so smart that it knows how to operate technology with the simple touch of it’s… glowing suction cups… and that a truck can be modified so specifically to have the perfect creature-car relationship is beyond silly. And a lot of the wanton city destruction with nearly no consequences may not be the best message to send to kids that’ll be watching it, but then again, how many kids will think to themselves to look for a kid-friendly sharktopus, put it in their parents’ cars, and go on an adventure? Let’s not insult them.
This is a stupid movie, but it feels like it knows it. It’ll be forgotten as the year progresses and honestly could have been a whole lot worse. I’ve seen terrible kids movies, so I say if you want to bring your kid to see it, it’s not terrible for them. Just don’t take it seriously. I think general audiences will be fine. But if you’re looking at this expecting to see a bad movie, wanting only to thrash it and tear it a new one, then you’ll be given countless reasons and that’s exactly what you’ll find. Personally, I think it’s bad, but still kind of enjoyable.
My honest rating for MONSTER TRUCKS: 2/5 for being a bad movie, 4/5 for being kind of fun, so average out to an official rating of 3/5.