Review by Lauryn Angel
Monster Trucks relies on a tried-and-true plot device of a previously unknown life-form in need of assistance and a human who is able to move beyond the fear reaction and provide help. In this case, the human is Tripp (Lucas Till), a teenager with a lot of angst, and the creature in question is called, well, Creech. While the film treads territory more adeptly covered by films like E.T. and How to Train Your Dragon (to name just two), Creech is endearing, and the film is much better than the trailers lead one to expect.
Tripp lives in a small town that is basically kept alive by Terravex, an oil and gas company that employs most of the residents. Terravex big boss Reece Tenneson (Rob Lowe) is after big profits, no matter what the cost, and orders workers to drill in spite of the potential destruction of an ecosystem. Drilling releases three creatures – the “monsters” of the title. Terravex captures two, but the third escapes to a nearby junkyard, conveniently where Tripp works. After some predictable hijinks, Tripp discovers that Creech feeds on oil, and after some trial and error, that the truck he’s building is the perfect hiding place for him.
The film is mildly entertaining, and the kids in the audience really seemed to enjoy it, but ultimately Monster Trucks falls flat. The characters – including science nerd Meredith (Jane Levy), company man Jim Dowd (Thomas Lennon), and local sheriff/Tripp’s step-father, Rick (Barry Pepper) – are not full developed, doing a disservice to the actors portraying them, who do the best they can with what they’re given. The plot is also full of holes, with characters making 180˚ turns in behavior with very little explanations. These turns aren’t likely to bother children under twelve, but it makes for unsatisfactory viewing for older children and adults.
What’s really disappointing about the film is that it is poised to make a statement about corporate greed, environmentalism, animal rights, or all three. . . but it never does. If anything, the film suggests that while it’s wrong for Terravex to wreak ecological havoc on a corporate scale, it’s all right for Tripp to exploit Creech for personal gain.
While Creech’s antics are entertaining, Monster Trucks is ultimately unsatisfying and forgettable.