You know what I miss? Live action films aimed purely at kids. Because they don’t exist anymore. Seriously. While you have more animated films than ever, you don’t really have the stuff based in reality. I’m not going to get all nostalgic and tell the ones from my childhood were great, they usually were a bit naff, but they do hold a special place in my heart and can help transition children into more serious movies. But because we are in a nostalgia fuelled industry, of course they would make a comeback and that’s why I’m here reviewing Monster Trucks. But is it any good?
Tripp (Lucas Till, X-Men: First Class) simply wants to get out of his small dead-end town, which is why he is trying to rebuild a pick-up truck so he can finally leave. However he ends up coming across a weird squid like creature that makes his home in his truck, and Tripp is pulled into trying to save it as an oil company is trying to get it.
And you can tell this isn’t going to be a great movie by the way the it introduces Monster Truck’s main character. Tripp is actually a senior in high school and if you go look at Lucas Till on Google Images, you’ll see that’s an issue. But many TV shows have done the same trick but they get away with it by casting the other school kids as adults as well. So when a yellow school bus rocks up with a depressed Tripp alongside actual children, it’s very off-putting and you realise not the most care and attention has gone into the film. It’s worth mentioning that love interest Meredith (Jane Levy, Evil Dead) but Monster Trucks isn’t stupid enough to make the same mistake and have her alongside a number of actual children to point out that she’s really an adult.
But that’s really just picking at the surface at this terrible movie, which just feels dated throughout. Monster Trucks was always going to feel like it’s from the past just because live action children’s movies don’t usually have a lot of money chucked at them anymore, but they really don’t help themselves. The film constantly stops dead in its tracks to have comedic antics from the monster, which are about as funny as a cavity search. And of course in these scenes, Lucas Till has to mug to the camera like his life depends on it. All it makes you realise is that the MacGyver reboot was probably a step up for him from this.
And ah, this monster. It’s one unimaginative thing. It feels like it was a reject from the Flanimals series. It’s basically a land squid. Yeah, it was done in a coffee break with someone who had something better to do. Now I will admit it gets a rather expressive face and that it’s probably the best actor in the movie, but it still feels a bit underwhelming. Had things gone to plan for the producers and this movie hadn’t been a flop, Creech, which is the daft name it’s given, would have had a lot of merchandise made of it but it would have been some of the most boring products made for children ever created. This is just a bland creation that fails to generate much sympathy.
Now because Monster Trucks is aimed at children, the plot is going to be simple. I get that. But it doesn’t need to be incredibly clichéd and insulting. I mentioned how dated some of the scenes are but boy the plot is far worse for this sort of thing. The villain is an oil company who want to kill these creates because profit. This is the laziest antagonistic figure you could have got for a movie like this. You end up with really boring villains, the only notable thing being that one of them looks disturbingly like John Travolta. And the plot takes the worst shortcuts to make sure it works. Anytime it seems like Tripp and Meredith are screwed, Meredith mentions something her father owns which suddenly solves everything. Meredith’s father is an absolute life saver, yet we never see him.
So, this is where I try to find a positive about the movie and it is quite tough. I suppose it’s nice to see Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) get some work, though he is obviously phoning it in. And if you want to laugh at how bad and corny a film can be, there might be something to be had here. There is a scene where Tripp is testing his truck out now that Creech is the engine while Meredith is riding her horse by the side of it. It’s such cheesy Americana that you can help but smirk. I was expecting to be told I could buy a Dodge Ram at my nearest dealership at the end.
But even if you can laugh at the worst parts, that doesn’t mean you should go watch Monster Trucks. This harks back to the days when Hollywood thought that you could put the least amount of effort into a kids film and still expect the punters to roll in. Thankfully we are better than that now and allow this film to be the flop it deserves to be. We all saw through it’s dated techniques and realised that it was just a lazy attempt to prick at our nostalgia. That’s why it lost so much money and that makes me proud to be human.