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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Tripp is a teen who just wants out.

He's tired of his small town and his small life in it. He's sick of high school and the obnoxious kids who populate the place (though a nerdy-but-pretty tutor named Meredith holds a certain charm for him). He's fed up with Sheriff Rick, the know-it-all cop who's dating his mom. And he's irritated with the big oil company, Terravex, that swooped in with its deep pockets full of cash.

Why, that greedy corporation even bought his deadbeat dad in a way, giving him a job after the man bailed on Tripp and his mom. But, no amount of oil money will buy Tripp. And as soon as he can get his old beater of a Dodge pickup running, he plans to leave it all behind in his rearview mirror.

Of course, that's easier said than done. Right now, that truck isn't much more than a pile of rust, four tires and a partial coat of paint. And even Tripp's part-time job at a local junkyard hasn't put an engine in the thing.

Little does Tripp realize, however, that everything in his life is about to change. And it will all happen thanks to the oil company that he despises so much. For while drilling toward a massive oil reserve, Terravex accidentally releases three sea-beasts that were happily swimming about in a subterranean lake some hundreds of thousands of feet below the surface.

The youngest of this massive trio—a blobby and tentacled creature that Tripp nicknames … Creech—somehow makes its way to the junkyard where Tripp works. It seems this critter has a hankering for cast off barrels of waste oil. And it doesn't mind crawling up into the chassis of a certain engineless Dodge truck and using it as a means of getting around.

Suddenly, not only does Tripp now have a "running" truck, he's got a running, wall-climbing and building-leaping monster truck—with a real monster under the hood.

Things in this small town teen's life are getting more interesting by the minute.

Positive Elements

Though Tripp is initially only concerned with Creech's ability to get his truck moving, Meredith helps him see that saving Creech and his two family members is a much more noble goal. The two teens put themselves at risk, while defying Terravex operatives, to get the creatures back, safe and sound, to their subterranean ecosystem.

Along the way, Tripp realizes that Sheriff Rick isn't such a bad guy after all. Rick goes out of his way to protect and aid the young man. The film also uses the bond between Creech and his monstrous parents as a symbolic representation of what a loving human family should look like.

At one point, Tripp laments the fact that his father turned out to be such a lousy person. We see how that missing father figure has emotionally wounded the young man, in spite of the unruffled façade he wears. But Meredith turns the sentiment around, suggesting that Tripp had made good choices and become a better person because of the hardship he faced. "There's no one like you at our school," she says. "That's something to thank your dad for, at least."

Spiritual Content

Passing reference is made to evolution.

Sexual Content

Trying to explain the odd "monster" situation he's dealing with, Tripp says, "There's something going on here." And an already slightly smitten Meredith mistakes his meaning and sighs back, "I feel it, too." But although the two obviously grow closer over the course of the film, that's the only verbal hint at the attraction between them. Even while on the run and sleeping out around a campfire, the two teens stay apart and in separate sleeping bags.

Violent Content

Reece Tenneson, the owner and CEO of Terravex, believes his company is justified in killing off the newly discovered creatures so that Terravex can find a sizable deposit of oil without government intervention. Accordingly, he takes steps to poison an entire ecosystem and kill hundreds of creatures.

The effort to stop this mass slaughter involves a number of bashing and vehicle-demolishing car chases involving Terravex's corporate thugs and our heroes. Vehicles get flipped, smashed into large rocks and cliff faces, and crunched into buildings. Tripp's truck drives over a car lot full of vehicles, crushing them all, and it destroys a trailer home as well. At one point, a large pickup truck is catapulted, upside-down, into a group of electric generators. The driver is seemingly killed in the accident (though no one makes mention of it). A drilling station explodes, and workers scramble for cover.

Tripp is manhandled by some security men. One of them brandishes a cattle prod-like device and snarls, "I'll hurt you kid. I will." When Tripp first encounters Creech, the beastie roars in his face, exposing rows of sharp teeth. During a car chase, Tripp gets thrown out of the driver's seat and left dangling by his fingertips over a deadly precipice.

Crude or Profane Language

One use each of "What the heck?" and "Oh my gosh."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Tripp's dad drinks a glass of liquor while they talk.

Other Negative Elements

Tripp, Meredith and Creech occasionally vandalize and steal things, though the movie justifies and rationalizes those actions as necessary to save Creech.

A heavy-set kid bends over, accidentally exposing part of his backside—much to Meredith's wincing chagrin. After a scary tumble off the side of a steep mountain, someone vomits. A high schooler suggests that Tripp's old truck looks like the result of a "garbage truck [that] took a dump."

Conclusion

Everybody wrote this movie off long ago. Reviewers have been pummeling it as Hollywood's most silly idea of 2017. And even parent company Paramount is already reportedly planning on taking a whopping $115 million loss on the film.

And that's before it even opens.

The fact is, the idea of a monster truck being propelled by an actual monster is a pretty absurd and eye-rolling concept. That is unless, of course, you've got the imagination of someone 10-years-old or younger, a kid who could easily envision such things while, say, staging mock battles between Avenger action figures and a fleet of Tonka Trucks in his bedroom.

From that perspective, this pic's concept and its CGI-heavy production values certainly pass muster. A monster. A truck. A monstertruck! What more could the average 10-year-old want?

Anyone old enough to have kids that age will likely have a different perspective, thinking of Monster Trucks as a throwback to old movies that involved such things as Flubber and a talking mule. Or perhaps a lightweight version of E.T. mixed with … The Love Bug. This is the sort of movie where bad guys are cartoonishly clueless, good guys are young and fearless, and smashing and blowing things up is, well, just a matter of course.

And all of it is refreshingly innocent, devoid of the sarcastic cynicism or suggestive material that supposedly makes such movies tolerable for adults. Nope, there's none of that here.

Now, the kind of wanton destruction of property we see might raise an eyebrow. After all, there is a whole lot of dangerous driving and rampant semi-criminal damage in the mix here. And let's not forget the baddies who are putting the teen heroes in perilous danger.

But, truthfully, those are really mild caveats. This is a movie about a boy and his monster. It's a popcorn-munching romp for the tween set, one that emphasizes selflessness and loyalty, friendship and family along the way.

In the end, viewers are left with a goofy movie about a goofy, doe-eyed monster that makes a truck crawl up and over buildings and jump down mountainsides. And for the right group of kids, that's goofy Saturday matinee gold.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Lucas Till as Tripp; Jane Levy as Meredith; Barry Pepper as Sheriff Rick; Rob Lowe as Reece Tenneson; Holt McCallany as Burke; Thomas Lennon as Jim Dowd; Danny Glover as Mr. Weathers

Director

Chris Wedge ( )

Distributor

Paramount Pictures

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

January 13, 2017

On Video

April 11, 2017

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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