Once in a lifetime, a film will enter the cinemas that will change the way we look at movies forever. A film that is so brilliant, so transcendent, that it opens the eyes of the moviegoer and cements its place in the halls of cinema alongside the likes of Casablanca and The Godfather. This sort of phenomenon is extremely rare. Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to inform you that Monster Trucks, against all odds, is not that film.
What can I say? This is a stupid movie. It’s really just as simple as that. We can end this review here. Monster Trucks is a stupid movie. But of course, you probably already knew that. They really don’t get much more juvenile than this one. I know you probably think you can imagine something more juvenile than Monster Trucks, but I assure you I can’t really think of one. A genuine line in this film goes as follows: “[Your truck] looks like a garbage truck took a dump. But not like a normal dump. Like a really bad one.” Most all of the dialogue in this film is like that. Just ridiculous illogical lines that feel as if they were written by a child. This film is absolutely absurd. It’s plotless, weakly-acted with motivationless characters and face value archetypes without originality or dimension. The “action” sequences are cartoonish at best, the pacing is bizarre, the actions by the characters have no consequences at all, and there’s not a single monster truck rally anywhere. But-all of that being said-there’s something oddly endearing about this film.
Don’t misunderstand me here. Monster Trucks is not a good movie. At all. But at the end of the day, it’s a watchable film. It’s not directed especially impressively by any means, but it is competent. I suppose before I commit to the herculean task of trying to convince you that this film isn’t, to borrow a term from its script, a really bad dump from a garbage truck, I should probably do the professional thing and attempt to explain to you this movie’s plot. There’s a guy, played by the not charismatic but not wooden Lucas Till, named Tripp and he really likes trucks. And one day he stumbles upon a mysterious whale/squid creature that eats oil and becomes one with his truck. There’s a girl who really really likes Tripp, even though he basically ignores her existence, who decides she’s going to hang around Tripp and his special car. And there’s also a big government conspiracy involving a typically evil oil baron who wants to drill for oil even though these whale/squid creatures live in the land they’re drilling on so he sends his generically evil G.I. Joe henchman to go kill this beast that they’ve called Creech so he can get rich. Thus, “plot” unfolds.
Look, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this movie is stupid. Anyone with a rational brain can look at this and say, yeah, I don’t want to watch this. It has mediocre characters and mediocre scenes. Sure five-year-olds might think this movie is the coolest thing ever made. But those of us who have progressed to a point where we are able to appreciate films as being more than just bright colors and flashy sounds can see that this is a really subpar movie. But as it goes along you can just almost find yourself getting invested in these kids and this stupid monster thing. There’s not really anything in this movie that is truly monumentally awful, and for that reason, I think it should be commended. I would rather watch this movie than have my teeth pulled, how about that? It’s endurable. I don’t think it’s any one thing that makes this movie watchable but more of just a combination of things that are bad but not as bad as they could be that leaves it as a sum of mediocre parts that can be seen without torture. I’m not recommending you see it, nor am I anointing it as a film to be remembered. But I will say this. If at some point you are babysitting a child and they beg to watch Monster Trucks, you can sit down and watch it with them. You will live through it.
All images are from Monster Trucks, a Nickelodeon Film.