A premise so dumb it’s scarcely believable it made it out of a pitch meeting outside of the SyFy Original Movie writer’s room, “Monster Trucks” has been languishing, complete, in Paramount’s vaults for the past two years while the studio figured out what to make of it. Having seen it, I’m afraid I can’t help them.
When an unscrupulous oil company drills too deep and disturbs an undiscovered ecosystem, they accidentally release some of the creatures which live there. Capturing two of them, evil business man Reece Tenneson (Rob Lowe) plots to quietly kill the creatures so his drilling plans aren’t halted but unbeknownst to him, a third creature manages to escape. Meanwhile, Tripp (Lucas Till), a high school senior looking for any way to get away from the life and town he was born into has been building a truck out of scrapped cars and finds more than horsepower lurking under the bonnet.
The greatest sin “Monster Trucks” commits is that it’s simply nowhere near as much fun as a movie about giant trucks literally powered by monsters should be. In place of a rollicking, knockabout adventure it offers a lazy and half-assed grab bag of ‘family movie clichés’ without ever committing to any of them. So we have a hazy pro-environmental theme, a disillusioned teen outsider, a well-meaning step father, an estranged deadbeat dad, a greedy and unscrupulous businessman plus some subterranean alien creatures but somehow the film still manages to be much less than the sum of its parts.
Lucas Till is simply not leading man material, especially when the material is this week. The effects are decent enough and Creech, the eponymous monster, is cute in a slimy, multi-toothed dolphin kind of way but everything just feels lazy and half-assed. It’s the live action debut of director Chris Wedge (“Robots”, “Ice Age”, “Epic”) but on the strength of this, he should stick to animation.
Dull when it should be daft, flaccid when it needs to be fun and lacking in any kind of spark, “Monster Trucks” is destined for the scrap heap.