‘Mon­ster Trucks’ is a clunky non-starter

MON­STER TRUCKS tonight film

The Star Late Edition - - TONIGHT -

HEY, how about mon­ster trucks with … wait for it … real mon­sters in them? Cool, right? That’s es­sen­tially the gist of the pitch in search of an ac­tual plot that is Mon­ster Trucks.

What we ul­ti­mately get is a tone-deaf jumble of live ac­tion and com­puter-gen­er­ated an­i­ma­tion that never en­gag­ingly clicks into gear.

Di­rected by Chris Wedge, who launched the wildly suc­cess­ful Ice Age fran­chise in 2002, this high-con­cept, low-oc­tane lemon will more than likely strug­gle to find an ap­pre­cia­tive ju­ve­nile au­di­ence when it pulls into the tra­di­tional Jan­uary movie junk­yard on Fri­day the 13th.

Screen­writer Derek Con­nolly (Juras­sic World) was ob­vi­ously aim­ing for a throw­back 1980s Steven Spiel­berg/ Joe Dante vibe with this story about a teen (Lu­cas Till) whose small-town life re­ceives a shot of adrenalin with the ar­rival of a gas-guz­zling crea­ture from the Earth’s un­der­belly who was dis­placed by an oil com­pany’s drilling op­er­a­tion.

Liv­ing with his mom (Amy Ryan) and her sher­iff boyfriend (Barry Pep­per), Tripp es­capes from his prob­lems at Danny Glover’s char­ac­ter’s junk­yard, where he scav­enges for parts for the pick-up truck he’s been try­ing to get up and run­ning.

He ends up at­tain­ing max­i­mum speed with the slimy giant sea-lion-type crea­ture he’s named Creech, who is fond of hid­ing un­der his truck’s hood and wrap­ping his ten­ta­cles around the axles – which is help­ful for out­run­ning the oil firm’s evil boss (Rob Lowe), who is in­tent on achiev­ing con­tain­ment at any cost.

There’s some sort of re­new­able re­sources les­son buried in here some­where but, like ev­ery­thing else in the story, the film-mak­ers never com­mit to an over­rid­ing theme or mood long enough to make a con­nec­tion with the viewer.

Even Creech – be­haviourally more of a greasy Grem­lin than a sub­ter­ranean E.T. – fails to man­i­fest the req­ui­site rap­port with Tripp to jus­tify the nec­es­sary au­di­ence iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

While Wedge’s an­i­ma­tion back­ground comes in handy dur­ing some in­ven­tive chase se­quences (shot in ru­ral Bri­tish Columbia), Mon­ster Trucks is oth­er­wise a clunky non-starter. –

The Hol­ly­wood Re­porter

DI­REC­TOR: Chris Wedge CAST: Lu­cas Till, Jane Levy, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Amy Ryan, Thomas Len­non, Holt McCal­lany CLAS­SI­FI­CA­TION: 7 - 9 PG V RUN­NING TIME: 105 min­utes RAT­ING: ★✩✩✩✩

The life of Tripp (Lu­cas Till) changes dra­mat­i­cally when a gas-guz­zling crea­ture from the Earth’s un­der­belly ar­rives in his small town – and crawls un­der the hood of his pick-up truck.

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