Monster Trucks (PG.)
Directed by Chris Wedge.
Starring Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Barry Pepper, Rob Lowe, Thomas Lennon and Danny Glover. 105 mins.
In considering Monster Trucks I'd invite you to imagine a really bad Transformers movie. And you'd say to me: no imagination needed, we've seen that really bad Transformers movie once/ twice/ three times/ delete as applicable. But Michael Bay's films, however hateful, are always big, grand, whiz bang, state of the art, occasions. Monster Trucks is a timid throwback, Transformers in the style of an old Herbie movie.
When Rob Lowe's evil oil corporation disturbs some giant slimy but smiley squid creatures from their subterranean pool, the most resourceful one hides away in the shell of a truck owned by big-for-his-age schoolkid Lucas Til. Having escaped Rob Lowe's exploitative clutches, the monster willingly places himself in benign servitude to Til, performing the functions of the missing engine in his truck and allowing himself to be steered and controlled by him. It's like the Grand National: to the uninformed townie it may look a bit cruel, but the horses, they absolutely love it.
It's plodding and pedestrian, the sort of thing that makes you regret ever complaining about the smart aleck hipness of most modern children's films. When it does try to be flip it is just aggravating -Til's lady friend Meredith (Levy) refuses to shake someone's hand because it's “just too sweaty.” That's OK, I blanked out her dialogue because her voice was just too whiny.
Nothing closes your mind to a film like the woman from the distributors making you sign an embargo restricting reviews till the day of release, as you go in. It's dreadful stuff really and Paramount, having put back its release from summer 2015, are already writing off their losses on this. Still, dull and dated as it is, young boys might enjoy the car chases, particularly the Fury Road for kids finale.