Monster Trucks is a lot like the Steven Spielberg classic E.T.: The Extra-terrestrial, Except retarded.
I know, I know; we're not supposed to use that word. But hear me out. Many of you probably remember my cousin Larry. We used to called him retarded until this lady from county social services said it was insulting and demeaning to call a person that. He didn't care, but it sure made her feel better to tell us that. Anyway, Monster Trucks is not a person, and this heap of shit deserves all the insulting and demeaning it gets. Besides, when I asked Larry if he wanted to see it with me, he answered, “No, it looks retarded.”
He was right. He usually is.
When I say Monster Trucks is like ET, I don't mean in spirit or quality. It's to E.T. what a Burger King Croissanwich is to a trip to Paris: the cheapest, laziest misappropriation of an icon. Monster Trucks rips off the classic, dumbs it down, drowns it in bleach, lobotomizes it, then fucks it in the face with a fire poker before adding some shit-grade special effects.
The plot is a confused mess, starting with an environmental premise before devolving into an embarrassing cowpie that has nothing to say about anything except, “Kids, if your parents brought you to this, they’re just filling the hours until you’re 18 and they can kick your ass out.”
In its eco-unfriendly drive for massive profits, an evil oil conglomerate has pierced a delicate underground river and unleashed unidentified subterranean creatures. Now, the company’s uncaring boss (Rob Lowe putting in about as much effort as a the dude who cuts keys at Home Depot) wants to capture those creatures before good and honest people find out and make the company stop drilling for oil
A man who is clearly in his mid-20s but still in high school named Tripp (Lucas Till) is one of those good and honest people, despite his learning disabilities. He meets one of the giant creatures after it slithers into the junkyard where he works (he likes to smash things and spill toxic fluids). The creatures, who look like erasers shaped like octopus, eat oil, and hide inside trucks, which they can also power.
Our good and honest hero befriends the monster he names Creech (short for Creature - even someone in the movie points out how fucking lame that is). They then must race all over the place to avoid the awful oil people.
Those evil, evil oil people! Their unquenchable thirst for more oil at the expense of the environment make the heroes of Monster Trucks so mad they just want to hop in their giant trucks, burn rubber to tear up the pristine hillsides. If only there was some way to stop those awful oil companies, they shout as they spill barrels of oil and mash their accelerators to unleash billowing plumes of diesel smoke. If only!
Tripp decides he must outsmart the devious oil barons and, like Elliott did with E.T., help Creech get home. He is aided by his boss (Danny Glover – why, why?), a wise old black man in a wheelchair. Yeah, this wet fart of a movie makes Glover pull double duty as Hollywood’s fabled “Magic Negro” and the gentle, justice-oriented handicap. Somewhere a Hollywood accountant is patting himself on the back for squeezing two token characters into one paycheck.
Tripp is abetted by another twenty-something still in high school (Jane Levy). She is supposed to be his science tutor, but mostly she makes googly-eyes at him. A romance buds between them as she learns there is more to life than text books that she must have a hard time reading through those dead, confused eyes.
If Monster Trucks is going to fail as a story-telling machine, it should at least have good special effects of shit getting smashed. It doesn’t. It as impressive as a tie-dye shirt in a washing machine. Many times, the movie just gave up. Tripp’s near-death is highlighted by his CGI body being stiffer than a month-old perch. Many scenes are obscured in darkness to hide defects. Trucks racing up hillsides leave no mark. It supposedly takes place in North Dakota, but the moviemakers don't even fucking try. The backdrops are clearly the mountainous Canadian Rockies, where production is cheaper.
The story offers no highs and lows, no tension. It has all the passion and fire of a K-Mart White Sale. And being in the audience is sort of like watching a fat dude sitting in a beach chair going “ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” for 100 minutes. I can see that at the Elks Lodge for three bucks any time I want. Plus, I get pancakes.
There is no dialog to speak of. Instead, Monster Trucks just has the actors say exactly what just happened or what will happen next. When not talking, they have to awkwardly pretend they’re touching monsters who aren’t really there.
The movie makes a feeble attempt at science, but gives up faster than a PE coach teaching human sexuality to sixth graders.. There is some explanation up front about how nothing could survive the nitrogen-rich atmosphere thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface. Later, though, the screenwriters confess that they not only don’t understand science, they can’t even be bothered to look at Wikipedia. Amphibians are described as animals that can breathe either water or air... their choice. They don’t even bother with an excuse for how creatures from deep in the earth can so easily handle sunlight and toxins. The movie’s climax ends with scientists screaming, “It’s poison! They’re using poison! They’re putting poison in the hole!” Actually defining the poison would have required a trip to the Internet.
The name Monster Trucks is a misnomer. The trucks aren’t monsters, they’re just trucks. And the monsters are retarded. One Finger for Retarded Monsters and Developmentally Disabled People in Big Trucks Brought to You By Lazy, Greedy, Creatively-Bankrupt Assholes.