Released 12th January
Seen 10th November
Directed by Chris Wedge
Written by Derek Connolly
Produced by Disruption Entertainment, FortyFour Studios, Nickelodeon Movies & Paramount Pictures
Starring Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon, Danny Glover & Rob Lowe
One of the classic film tropes that have been a major part of cinema is known as the “A Boy and His Dog” trope. The idea is that the story revolves the bond between the boy (Usually our main character) and his dog (Though this can vary). Monster Trucks is absolutely a Boy and his Dog kind of film… it’s just that I don’t care about either the boy or his dog/giant-alien-truck-controlling-creature.
Tripp (Played by Lucas Hill) is a regular guy who works at an auto yard, working on building his first car out of salvaged parts. Nearby an oil company, run by the EEEEVIL Reece Tenneson (Played by Rob Lowe) has an unfortunate accident and several creatures escape. One of those creatures finds Tripp who names his new friend ‘Creech’ and discovers that this creature metabolizes oil and can power his car. Together they try to get Creech’s family out of the clutches of Tenneson and get the trio of creatures back home.
The film looks decent, maybe not great but it clearly knows where a camera should be put and how to capture some decent shots. It also managed to make the Creech character look kind of adorable, enough that I could understand why anyone would actually connect with him. Some shots are impressive, especially the final car chase sequence which does have some admittedly impressive moments. This ends the “Positive” portion of the review because that’s all this movie deserves.
The problems with Monster Trucks goes right to its very core. The story is bland and not because of the trope it uses. That trope has given us E.T. and Free Willy, it can be a great starting point for a great film if used properly and given a decent journey for the main characters to go on. This film doesn’t have that, it lacks a good reason for anything to happen. They try to make the villains into the private security of the oil company that found the creatures, but they’re just not that intimidating. You end up not even getting the main villains motivation other than “I’m evil and I like money” which is no longer an interesting plotline, hasn’t been since the 90’s. You have to have something more than that, you have to subvert that cliche in some way and this film just can’t do that.
It’s also just forgettable. I finished watching this film about 30-45 minutes before I begun writing this review and I didn’t remember the main character’s name, I had to open IMDB and look it up. If I have to do that without an hour of seeing your film, you did something wrong here. There’s entire chunks of this movie that I cared so little about that even though I literally only just finished watching it, I’ll be damned if I could describe them.
When the most animated performance on screen is by a barely constructed truck, you know the actors just stopped caring and considering the cast list includes Danny Glover and Rob Lowe, that’s saying a lot. No one looks like they gave a damn, they were in this for the paycheck at best. None of the characters make you actually care for them, with the exception of Creech. If I’m more attached to the CGI slime monster than I am the main actor, we have a problem.
Can we just make a general rule? Maybe in future let’s not let literal 4-year-old children help write major motion pictures. Because that’s what happened here, this film was literally made based on a pitch that was, in part, thought up by a 4-year-old. That’s not even close to acceptable, neither is giving the film thought up by a 4 year old a 125 million dollar budget when the film was made back in 2014… oh, yeah, this film kinda sat on the shelf for 2 years because Paramount realised they were about to drop a massive turd of a film. this is the same company that got rid of the much cheaper Friday the 13th series because they didn’t want to handle the controversies those films brought them, but those films were also cheaply made and always profitable. Monster Trucks was never going to be profitable, it was never going to be good (Again, a 4-year-old thought this film up) and it was never going to make $125,000,000.
The film lacks focus and decent writing. Any good idea it has is squandered before it even get’s to start. No actor involved actually cares. It might look OK, but it’s sure not right.