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'Monster Trucks' Review: Suitable For Young Children, Marginally Watchable for Adults

By Dustin Rowles | Film | January 16, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | January 16, 2017 |

Over the weekend, I went and saw Monster Trucks, because I had to for my job. I planned to bring the kids — a boy, 9, and twin girls (almost 5) — but after showing the trailer to my wife, she refused to allow it. “That looks like mind rot,” she said. However, I was able to convince her to change her mind based on the reviews of my colleagues here at Pajiba, Kristy and Rebecca, who assessed the film for other outlets. They both gave the film positive notices and touted the film’s family friendliness.

It is family friendly, and despite the presence of monsters and trucks, suitable for five year olds. My twins, in fact, were thrilled to see a kid-friendly film that wasn’t animated, although the boy was unimpressed, which I only mention because I found this line of thought irksome in Deadline’s box-office rundown:

RelishMix reports, “Monster Trucks is reaching its target audience of parents with small children, many of whom are saying how excited their son will be to see this movie in theaters …

CinemaScore shows dads with their sons buying tickets at 53% males, 55% under 18.

Wait a second? The audience was 53 percent male? That means that 47 percent were female, and yet, the suggestion here is that girls aren’t interested in movies about trucks driven by oil-guzzling monsters! THAT’S NOT TRUE. Women and their daughters are almost just as interested in killing two hours watching a generic family film with poorly designed CGI monsters that powers an oversized truck! NO WONDER MONSTER TRUCKS BOMBED!

Actually, the fact that the movie bombed is more of a reflection of the film’s $125 million budget than it is the movie itself, which is playful and silly, although there is nothing in this movie as goofy as the Southern accent of Rob Lowe. He plays the film’s villain, a miscast oil-man who would rather kill these oil-drinking creatures than allow them to interfere with his oil mine.

Monster Trucks follows Tripp (Lucas Till), a small-town high-school kid who wants nothing more than to own a truck so he can get out of his lousy town. He’s paired with a love interest/biology tutor, Meredith, who is played by Jane Levy, minus the sarcastic edge. The two discover a lovable (but honestly, pretty revolting) monster who was forced to the surface during an oil-drilling expedition conducted by the evil oil company. The monster takes up residence in the hood of Tripp’s beater of a truck, and the threesome become fast friends a la E.T. or Iron Giant. Tripp and Meredith then attempt to get the monster back to his underground home before the dastardly oil company’s CEO can unite the monster with his parents and snuff our their lives.

It’s pretty harmless stuff. I wouldn’t call it a good movie, but it’s watchable, and it’s the rare live-action action film suitable for the target audience, young children of EITHER GENDER. It’s only a colossal embarrassment for its studio by virtue of its exorbitant budget, little of which actually looks like it made it into the film’s CGI budget, which can only mean that Rob Lowe was paid an insane amount of money to turn in a performance that makes his role in Tommy Boy seems worth of an Oscar by comparison.

In other words, what I’m saying is: It’s considerably better than Planes or any of the films in either the Smurfs or Alvin and the Chipmunks franchises.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.