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Movie Review

Monster Trucks also known as “Monster Cars,” “Monstros Sobre Rodas,” “Monstru ratai”

MPAA Rating: PG for action, peril, brief scary images, and some rude humor.

Reviewed by: Samuel Chetty
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Teens
Genre:
Action Adventure Family 3D
Length:
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
2016
USA Release:
January 13, 2017 (wide—2,800+ theaters)
DVD: April 11, 2017
Copyright, Paramount Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
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Featuring: Lucas TillTripp
Jane Levy … Meredith
Thomas LennonJim Dowd
Barry PepperSheriff Rick
Rob LoweReece Tenneson
Danny GloverMr. Weathers
Amy RyanCindy
Holt McCallanyBurke
Frank Whaley … Wade Coley
Aliyah O'Brien … Junior Scientist
Daniel Bacon … Technician
more »
Director: Chris Wedge—“Ice Age” (2002)
Producer: Disruption Entertainment
Nickelodeon Movies
more »
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

There seems to be a trend of movies showing animals driving. Last year I saw some crazy driving from animals in Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets. And now, I have seen a giant subterranean sea creature take control of a truck. The story of Monster Trucks begins when an oil company encounters three huge sea creatures while drilling. Two of them are confined, but one escapes and makes its way across land, eventually getting into the non-functional truck of the main character, a high-school senior named Tripp (Lucas Till).

As one would expect, Tripp is quite alarmed at first. But he soon realizes that the creature is friendly. The oil company is trying to track the creature down, but Tripp wants to protect it. Tripp teams up with Meredith (Jane Levy), another student from school who becomes aware of the creature powering his truck, and they seek to escape from the oil company’s investigators. But matters get more complicated as the creature assumes the role of navigator.

I found this to be an entertaining movie with a good balance of style, combining action and humor. This movie can appeal to viewers of many ages who like action or adventure films. If you have young kids who may watch it, note that there are hair-raising road chases throughout which might be scary. Although the giant sea creature is not ugly, its large, octopus-like appearance and wild behavior could seem somewhat intimidating until you get to know it.

From a moral perspective, how you perceive this movie depends on how concerned you are about behavior such as lying, stealing, trespassing, and dangerous driving in attempts to save non-human characters. Attempts to derail the “bad guys” of the oil company involve crashes that would be unsurvivable in real life. This movie could stimulate discussions about how to reconcile compassion for animals with responsibility in human society.

If viewers understand that the characters’ actions should not serve as literal examples for how to care for animals, this is otherwise a rather clean movie that many fans of its genre would enjoy watching.

Content Concerns

Violence: A lot of chaotic road scenes, including major collisions and cars getting flipped. It is never revealed whether certain “bad guys” survive.

Language: “God” as an exclamation—once. A few euphemisms (“heck,” “flip,”, “gosh”).

Sexuality: In once scene, a male character wears pants allowing a bit of his posterior to be exposed. A girl notices, but looks away. One scene shows two minor, teenage characters of the opposite sex together in a house at night.

Other: As described earlier, there is some behavior from the main characters such as lying, stealing, trespassing, and escaping from police, as part of their mission to rescue the sea creature. The movie does not show any consequences to these tactics. Other miscellaneous items are a brief scene of a man vomiting after a wild car ride, and a reference to the theory of Evolution with regards to sea life.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


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Movie Critics

…delightful… very entertaining, family-friendly adventure with no objectionable content other than some environmentalist messages and one light exclamatory profanity…
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

…It's a popcorn-munching romp for the tween set, one that emphasizes selflessness and loyalty, friendship and family along the way. …refreshingly innocent, devoid of the sarcastic cynicism or suggestive material… [4/5]
—Bob Hoose, Plugged In

…a fun-fueled hybrid of live action and CGI… “Monster Trucks” is more involving than it sounds. Characters and conflicts are sharply defined, and director Chris Wedge handles the action with clarity. …Yes, it’s shallow and silly—but your kids won’t care…
—Alan Zilberman, Washington Post

…there’s not a bad performance to be found. But the characters are underwritten and two-dimensional… a mild creature-feature ride on the eco-friendly side…
—Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

…a lame kids’ movie reverse-engineered from a worse pun…
—Peter Debruge, Variety

…Disappointingly, the movie is a generic muddle, not giving children much to thrill to between its limited, awkwardly conceptualized action and its undercooked characters. …
—Tom Russo, The Boston Globe

…a giant, much-delayed mistake with a $125m price tag… [2/5]
—Tim Robey, The Telegraph [UK]

…The main monster communicates in noises that sound like belches. Appropriate for a picture that’s the equivalent of a cinematic burp: gassy and inconsequential. …
—Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times

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