Film Review: MONSTER TRUCKS (USA 2016)

monster_trucks_movie_poster.jpgDirector: Chris Wedge

Writers: Derek Connolly (screenplay), Matthew Robinson (story by)

Stars: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon

Review by Gilbert Seah

A monster truck is a vehicle (usually a pickup truck) that has been modified with a larger suspension and larger tires so as to compete in shows and mud bogs. While vacationing in New Brunswick years back, I was taken to a mud bog. It was the most boring time of that vacation. But there is no monster competition show in this film called MONSTER TRUCKS. But there is a real life monster living inside a truck, the one modified by the protagonist Tripp (Lucas Till) who drives it.

Looking for any way to get away from the life and town he was born into, Tripp Coley, a high school senior, builds a monster truck from bits and pieces of scrapped cars. After an accident at a nearby oil-drilling site displaces a strange and subterranean creature with a taste and a talent for speed who he names Creech, Tripp may have just found the key to getting out of town and a most unlikely friend. The rest of the film has Tripp rescuing the creature, embedded in his truck (don’t ask) and retiring it to its habitat, ET-style. The story was reported to originate from ex-Paramount President (reason he is now ex-President is obvious) and his 4-year old son.

Director Chris Wedge (who made ICE AGE and the forgettable animated features like EPIC and ROBOTS) appear to be just going through the motions with his latest feature. The film is cliched from start to finish. But the greatest fault of the film is the seriousness everyone seems to be taking of the material, despite the film’s really ridiculous plot of monsters surviving near oil wells and able to join in human beings and amalgamate with their trucks.

It is the same old cliched story of boy wanting to escape from small town with subplots of single mother trying to keep son in town; overbearing mother’s boyfriend (Barry Pepper) who must be the sheriff of the town; pining wannabe girlfriend; loner befriending monster and so on. With uninspired direction and writing, the film turns boring within the first 10 minutes. The silly message about caring for the environment does not help the film’s originally either.
Lucas Till (the X-MEN films and yes, in that teen awful film HANNAH MONTANA) is plain awful as the lead who appears o be hired for the job based on his looks. The sequence where he pretends to drive a truck in the garage proves how bad he is. Amy Ryan as is mother is totally wasted but Barry Pepper is at least watchable. Pepper is an actor from Vancouver and likely hired as the film was shot in the Vancouver Production Studios.

The film has so far garnered negative reviews (example 22% on Rotten Tomatoes as of time of writing). Paramount is reported to be taking a $115 write down for the film which cost $125 million to make, mostly for the special and CGI effects, which are the only impressive things about the film, despite looking silly (tentacles protruding from the body of the trucks). MONSTER TRUCKS turns out to be a big awful monster of a movie.



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