★★★★★ FROM APRIL 12 / DIRECTOR Chris Wedge / CAST Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Barry Pepper, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan Creature feature
TRIPP (LUCAS TILL,
TV’S new Macgyver) is a self-imposed outsider who can’t wait to move away from his small town. But when a fracking company punches into an aquifer, releasing previously unknown creatures, Tripp must team up with other school misfits to save the underground ecosystem. There’s nothing wrong with attempting to make a modern version of a 1980s Amblin movie, but this is off-target. Monster Trucks is basically ET The Extra Terrestrial if ET was a giant squid, and Elliott was an asshole. Tripp is about 50 per cent too douchebaggy — sure, you want your main character to have an arc, but he’s simply awful to everyone, all the time — to the point where it’s simply hard to care about him. Running up tabs on other people’s credit cards, smashing other people’s cars, ignoring his friends when they speak — most of the time, he’s more unlikable than the actual bad guys. Creech — the ET of the piece — is likeable enough when he’s visible, but he spends most of his time cooped up inside a truck. It feels less like Tripp and Creech are friends, and more like Tripp is a really lousy pet owner — the kind of guy who leaves his dog in the car while he goes to the pub.
But the car chases are fun, and Barry Pepper is a hoot as the anal-retentive sheriff/father-figure. Unlike Spielberg’s deft all-ages touch, Monster Trucks is strictly for the young’uns, but they’ll probably love it. TIM KEEN