Monster Trucks (3 stars)

Monster Trucks

Jane Levy spices up this derivative family adventure from director Chris Wedge

Channelling the feel-good factor of his animated hits Ice Age and Robots, director Chris Wedge opts for a mix of CGI and practical effects for his first foray into live-action family adventure. It's a film that pilfers parts from 80s favourites in the same way that its teen hero Tripp (Lucas Till of X-Men fame) customises muscle trucks from scrapped cars.

Tripp soon discovers there's something that loves trucks almost as much as he does. But when bad guys get wind that Tripp's vehicles are fuelled by more than petrol, they come a-lookin' for the creature in question.

Monster Trucks, reportedly developed by a studio executive and his 4-year-old son, asks the question, 'What would happen if monster trucks had real monsters in them?' It finds its answer in Creech, a slithering subterranean beast with a puppy-like personality and a need for speed. Animated to buggery, Creech looks like a cross between a cartoon octopus, blow-up shark and some sort of pickle, with a Roger Rabbity way of fitting into a space, only if it might be funny.

Sparking up this rather silly paean to motorheads is Jane Levy, a talented performer who's proved her acting chops on some of the toughest scenes in modern horror (including the already infamous turkey baster sequence in Don't Breathe). She's spicy and spectacular as the horse-riding almost-girlfriend of a boy who doesn't notice too much, and it's hard to imagine the film being as good without her.

It has cute moments, some nifty visual puns and Rob Lowe and Danny Glover in support. With its release pushed back several times, perhaps Paramount had regrets about greenlighting this one as, despite a perky pace and a serious eco message, Monster Trucks is far from fresh.

General release from Mon 26 Dec.

Monster Trucks

  • 3 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 40min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Chris Wedge
  • Written by: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
  • Cast: Jane Levy, Amy Ryan, Lucas Till, Holt McCallany
  • UK release: 26 December 2016

What would happen if monster trucks had real monsters in them? Some cute moments, some nifty visual puns and a spicy and spectacular performance from Levy, but basically, this is what happens when a studio executive develops a film idea with his four-year-old son.