Chris Wedge’s Monster Trucks has maybe the stupidest premise imaginable: So-called “monsters” who eat and drink fossil fuels are found deep below the surface of the earth, and one of them is quickly taught to inhabit the shell of a truck (imagine a hermit crab, perhaps) and run around while inside it, occasionally causing havoc. It’s the silliest, most inane concept for a movie I’ve encountered in a long time — and bless it for this. In an era where movies are getting more and more focus-grouped all to hell, I feel downright elated to find something as out-and-out goofy as a movie like Monster Trucks.
This isn’t the only reason I find myself taking a shine to Wedge’s film. An insane premise alone isn’t enough, but luckily the film has enough charm, along with a sense of whimsy, to work. Keep in mind, Monster Trucks is not the pinnacle of cinematic art, but it never wants to be. It’s simply a strange, fun adventure-fantasy that preteens will adore and adults might enjoy. There’s zero pretension, zero seriousness. It’s the type of movie that harkens back to ’80s junk and more modern approximations like Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids and Shawn Levy’s Real Steel. It’s simple, fun and generally entertaining, something so many movies have trouble accomplishing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s still a movie about tentacled CGI animals wearing trucks as suits, so there’s a heavy amount of suspension of disbelief going on here. Lucas Till plays Tripp, a simple high school student with daddy issues, a strained relationship with his stepfather (Barry Pepper) and a knack for mechanics. One day, he finds a large, tentacled and somewhat mushy animal drinking up barrels of oil and roaming around the junkyard he works in at night. It turns out the local (and evil) oil company that runs the town has uncovered a hive of these animals deep underground and is trying to round the last one up so they can poison them all and get back to drilling.
Tripp, however, takes a liking to the animal and decides to get him home and stop the nefarious oil company (run by Rob Lowe with an atrocious Texas accent), but not before discovering the creature can not only easily slide into the body of his run-down pickup truck, it can also power it with its tentacles. Yes, it’s all as dumb as it sounds, but Monster Trucks has the sense to roll with it with sufficient world-building, never questioning things and moving along quickly enough to where the audience shouldn’t be bothered mulling them over too much themselves. Helping things is a cast that is all amiable and charming enough and a script that has enough sense to keep the film light. Monster Trucks only wants to be fun, and it does just that. Rated PG for action, peril, brief scary images, and some rude humor.
Now Playing at Carmike 10, Epic of Hendersonville and Regal Biltmore Grande.