Scuttlebutt has it that Monster Trucks was conceived by the four-year-old son of former Paramount president Adam Goodman. Certainly the film’s premise bears this out: disgruntled high school senior Tripp (Lucas Till) may just realize his dream of leaving his Podunk town behind after befriending Creech, a gas-guzzling extraterrestrial that suggests Toothless the dragon with Cthulhu tentacles. The screenplay, though, is by Derek Connolly, the adult male who conceived of Bryce Dallas Howard running from rampaging dinosaurs in high heels. As in Jurassic World, traits of the most exaggerated variety hang from characters like baubles: Barry Pepper’s Sheriff Rick is introduced—in a show ostensibly meant to explain Tripp’s contempt for him—wiping away the fingerprints that Tripp’s mother, Cindy (Amy Ryan), leaves behind on his cop car after she leans in for a kiss. Would that the film’s characterizations were as obsessively compulsive as Rick’s behavior. In a scene featuring Milton Bradley’s electronic game Simon, the filmmakers charmingly wink at the story’s self-evident debt to old-school Spielberg. But that sense of nostalgia is ultimately a reflection of how little the film asks of its audience. If Monster Trucks ever feels thorny, it’s unintentional so. This is a film that pushes its female characters to the sidelines as if they had cooties, cartoonishly admonishing Big Oil while hypocritically fetishizing the gas-guzzling appetite of a cute and cuddly machine-creature hybrid.
- Paramount Pictures
- 104 min
- Chris Wedge
- Derek Connolly
- Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Thomas Lennon, Barry Pepper, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan, Holt McCallany, Tucker Albrizzi
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