I‘m not going to lie, when I first saw the movie poster I thought it was going to be some kind of monster from The Mist inhabiting a truck and dining on whatever road kill it made along the way. So I was pretty excited to see this at first. Somewhere along the line though, I found out that it wasn’t anything like that and pretty much lost interest. When Horsepower Month came up for the site, someone (*cough* Content Manager *cough*) jokingly suggested I review this since I do a lot of the monster-related films, and I thought, “sure, why not.” I still had some interest in watching this even knowing it wasn’t going to be the bloodletting I was hoping for. So how did this turn out?
Well, I was pleasantly surprised. Monster Trucks turned out to be a movie I needed to see without even realizing it. I’ve been immersed in the Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises to get ready for October as well as the Magnificent Seven series so things have been on the serious side for a while now. I guess I didn’t realize I just needed something fun to enjoy, and this movie was a lot of fun for me. It reminded me of Escape to Witch Mountain actually.
Other reviews I’ve read have not been kind, and I understand why, but I have to disagree. Monster Trucks was definitely not going to win any awards or break any box office records, which the creators had to know, but it’s not a complete dumpster fire either. For one, the two leads were very good and had a chemistry between them that just worked. Lucas Till plays Tripp, which is a really dumb name, but I loved his character. Jane Levy plays the love interest, Meredith, who is interested in Tripp, but he’s completely oblivious to her. Of course their relationship blossoms as things go on, but it was comical to see how much she was interested in him while he completely blew her off unintentionally. We also get Danny Glover as Tripp’s handicapped boss from his junkyard job. Rob Lowe is the evil corporation guy. Barry Pepper plays the local cop who is dating Tripp’s mother. Rounding out the cast, I recognized Holt McCallany who plays the heavy and did a pretty decent job with it.
The villains were black and white with no ambiguity whatsoever, like Lowe’s corporate guy who was going to make his fortune no matter how much of the environment he destroyed. McCallany’s character was out to capture the monster without any regard for human life. So you know exactly what these guys stand for. Of course, the good guys were just as binary. The acting was over the top in a lot of places. Lowe’s bad guy was definitely exaggerated. Glover’s character was somewhat of a nondescript guy who could have been played by any older actor, although it was fun to see him.
Was this a mediocre to bad movie? Yes, it was. No question about that. The thing is, this actually has a decent budget behind it and has some polish beyond all its flaws. As I’ve mentioned, the leads and the heavy were good. The story wasn’t anything remarkable or groundbreaking, but it all came together rather nicely. One thing I have not touched on is the monster effects, which I thought were pretty good. The monsters didn’t look like old video game graphics at all. In fact, Creech, the main monster, was really well articulated. His tentacles interact with both Tripp and the truck smoothly. Whatever blend of practical and computer effects were used was well done, in my opinion. Seeing him move around the city doing monster parkour was pretty cool. Someone put in some effort on the monster part.
Plain and simple, this whole movie is a feel good family affair. There is no foul language, no gore, no blood, no nudity, no drugs: nothing that can be taken offense to whatsoever, and that is precisely why I think this is worth a watch. I mean, if there was some nudity or extreme violence people probably wouldn’t mind the dopey story so much, but that lack of adult content just makes something like this enjoyable to watch. It’s good for a family night where you sit down with the kids and just enjoy something, or if you’re single you enjoy it after a hard day’s work or in early January when you need to rejuvenate after the holidays. I can definitely see myself revisiting this one from time to time.
There are a lot of faults here which I’m openly acknowledging. My score is going to be a generous 3/5. I should toss a 2.5 at it and walk away, but that extra bit of entertainment pushed this one up a little. It’s not cinema greatness by any stretch. You know what you’re getting into so just sit back, relax, and have a good time. That’s the essence of what films should be anyway.