Monster Trucks

 

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Trucks. Big trucks. With tentacles.

 

Monster Trucks

  

It had to happen. With the appetite for monsters in the movies as well as for vehicular pyrotechnics, a combo of the two was inevitable. Chris Wedge, the creative motor behind the Ice Age cartoons, certainly knows his audience and here whips up a sort of Pete’s Dragon meets Loch Ness with a Transformers vibe.

 

The story is anything but straightforward. Rob Lowe is the unscrupulous CEO of an outfit drilling for oil in the American wilderness and whose gung-ho tactics trigger a massive underground explosion. In the ensuing chaos, a trio of prehistoric creatures that were living in a network of subterranean lakes ends up in the hands of Terravex. However, one of the creatures escapes, having hidden itself inside a company truck. As the amphibian exists almost entirely on oil, a truck would seem an obvious place in which to secrete itself. Meanwhile, petrol head Tripp (Lucas Till), who spends more time working in a local scrapyard than showing up at school, discovers the third visitor and befriends it. It’s a symbiotic relationship as Tripp’s new companion – whom he dubs ‘Creech’ – can propel the lad’s pick-up at huge speeds by using its tentacles for propulsion…

 

At once a generic exercise aimed at young teens and a highly original concept, Monster Trucks the movie is as composite a thing as its protagonist’s four-wheeler. Yet in spite of so many disparate elements, the film does achieve a satisfactory tone. This is a family friendly and environmentally compassionate ride, in which corporate types are the bad guys and the youth of today the bastions of tomorrow. As Tripp’s wide-eyed fellow student Meredith – who is definitely not a girlfriend – the 27-year-old Jane Levy channels a young Reese Witherspoon with gusto, while Thomas Lennon is nicely understated as the nerdy geologist who is Rob Lowe’s sweaty right hand. 

The dialogue may leave a lot to be desired and the music never stops, but there are enough nice throwaway touches to elevate this above your garden-variety multiplex fodder.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Amy Ryan, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Barry Pepper, Holt McCallany, Frank Whaley, Thomas Lennon, Samara Weaving.

 

Dir Chris Wedge, Pro Mary Parent and Denis L. Stewart, Screenplay Derek Connolly, from a story by Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger and Matthew Robinson, Ph Don Burgess, Pro Des Andrew Menzies, Ed Conrad Buff IV, Music Dave Sardy, Costumes Tish Monaghan.

 

Paramount Animation/Nickelodeon Movies/Disruption Entertainment-Paramount Pictures.

104 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 26 December 2016. Cert. PG.