Monster Trucks, 2016.
Directed by Chris Wedge.
Starring Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Barry Pepper, Amy Ryan, Rob Lowe, Danny Glover, Thomas Lennon and Holt McCallany.
Looking for any way to get away from the life and town he was born into, Tripp (Lucas Till), a high school senior, builds a Monster Truck from bits and pieces of scrapped cars. After an accident at a nearby oil-drilling site displaces a strange and subterranean creature with a taste and a talent for speed, Tripp may have just found the key to getting out of town and a most unlikely friend.
There’s a brilliant Key and Peele sketch that riffs on the bafflement of the Hollywood system in the 80s. As Joe Dante asks of his writers ideas for which Gremlins 2 could be based upon, a flamboyant “Sequel Doctor” enters. “Everyone design their own gremlin” he declares. “A brainy gremlin? Yes,” “a spider gremlin? Yes, “a female gremlin? Yes,” and so on and so on. The ideas become more and more outlandish yet as with filmmaking at the time, these ideas all-out of total bafflement-ended up in what would be Gremlins 2. One can only but presume those that made the cocaine fuelled nightmare of Monster Trucks were in a meeting similar.
High school student Tripp (Lucas Till, 26, looking nearer 30) hates his life and the town he lives in. His doting, caring mother (Amy Ryan, who should know better) works long hours at an ambiguous job leaving her cop boyfriend (Barry Pepper) to keep an eye on her obnoxious son. At school, he’s distracted by his yearning to build his monster truck, much to the annoyance of Meredith (Jane Levy, who should also know better)-an attractive, smart, funny, all round nice person who is tasked with tutoring Tripp.
Meanwhile, over at an oil-rigging site run by 80s bad guy Rob Lowe, an accident displaces bulbous octopus like creatures with a need for speed, one of which hides away in the bonnet of Tripp’s ragged truck. Other 80s bad guy Holt McCallany isn’t much happy with this and begins to hunt them down but with modifications and team work, Tripp builds a literal monster truck. Jesus Christ.
The plotting, of which almost nothing makes sense and tangential thoughts momentarily appear (Tripp has severe daddy issues born out of something never explained) has the grandiose feeling of a think-tank of writers slamming their faces against the keys just days before production. The story is credited to three different people which begs the question, how? How? How is that of those three writers, not a single person chose to stand up and declare the entire affair a farce?
In the recent remake of Evil Dead, Jane Levy cut through her tongue and had her leg torn off, which in hindsight, maybe isn’t so bad. Having to grapple with sentient mullet and charisma vacuum Lucas Till must have made her question as to whether the horrors caused by the Necronomicon were so bad in the first place. Rob Lowe (on screen for maybe 10 minutes and clearly having left the house at the last minute because he probably forgot) attempts a Southern accent for the first two, then abandons it because that would be far too much of an effort.
Someone clearly thinks that as a pun, Monster Trucks works. It doesn’t. So, what follows is a series of film pitches in a similar mould…
SKY SCRAPERS- “A toxic oil spill causes Sky Scrapers to achieve sentience. David Spade stars as a Rymans.”
ERASERHEAD- “A Nickelodeon funded remake of David Lynch’s lucid nightmare. That kid from Diary of a Wimpy Kid stars as Max Hammersmith, a lonely high school kid who builds a teleportation machine. But uh oh, his head turns into an eraser.”
Douse yourself in chloride, we willed Monsters Trucks into existence. Don’t ask why, ask how?
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★