As the title suggests, it’s about a monster … living inside a truck. Your kid probably thinks this is the greatest concept ever. You probably think that this is going to be worse than a Sharknado / Birdemic double feature. So is the first family-friendly film of 2017 is more fun than it seems, or will you take a well-deserved 100-minute nap?
Monster Trucks might be cursed, and it has nothing to do with its Friday the 13th release date. The film had 4 different release dates, starting way back in the summer of 2015. So why the delay? In the ultimate father-son bonding experiment, an ex-Paramount executive and his then 4-year-old son brainstormed the film’s premise. Seriously.
Paramount suspected they’d have a massive bomb on their hands, so they took a $115 million write-down against its projected losses. Impossibly, this flick had a $125 million budget and was planned to become a “Transformers-like franchise,” said Deadline back in 2013. Talk about foresight!
But hey, it has Danny Glover and Rob Lowe — and those guys are national treasures. It’s also directed by Chris Wedge, who has a solid track record when it comes to children’s movies (Ice Age, Robots). Just lower your expectations.
For Kids: If there’s anything beyond the title that piques your kid’s interest, then they might work for Paramount. The story is simple: Lucas Till (who’s 26 years old, by the way) plays high school senior, Tripp, a grease monkey teenager filled with angst. Tripp builds a monster truck in hopes to leave his hometown.
Nearby, an oil-drilling company (lead by Lowe) drills just a little too deep, accidentally releasing a subterranean monster who guzzles oil for food. The creature, who is dubbed Creech, strikes up a friendship with Tripp, stays hidden inside the monster truck and racing chaos ensues against the evil oil corporation.
Despite the camp, some critics think it’s fun. Helen O’Hara from Empire says the film is ridiculous and “better than you could have predicted given the title but squarely aimed at a young and undiscerning audience.”
For You: Again, lower your expectations. It’s monsters in freaking trucks.
Alex Welch from IGN says the film has “legitimately funny comedic moments and enough lighthearted action to warrant its existence.” On the flip side, Christian Holub from Entertainment Weekly says Trucks is “rather unspectacular. The basic setup of the film should be familiar to anyone who’s ever read a YA book.”
No matter how you slice it, you’re looking at big-budget mediocrity in the vain of a Goosebumps book with an “80s throwback vibe,” says The Hollywood Reporter. That actually doesn’t sound terrible.
Common Sense’s Take: Common Sense Media is the leading nonprofit source helping parents make movie and TV choices for their children.
Their review states the movie is “fine for young elementary schoolers who enjoy cars, animals, and a combination of the 2.”
Also, the film’s thin story manages to “promote teamwork, environmental stewardship, protecting animal habitats, and realizing there are things more important than profit and status.”
Bottom Line: Unless your child is completely mad with monsters, trucks or monster trucks, then the family can pass up this one. Beyond that, the only damage this movie can cause is generating a big box office return to warrant a sequel.
Running time: 122 minutes