What we’ve got is a lower-rent variation on the Transformers template. A sentient vehicle bonds with a rebellious teen and away they go on a series of high-speed CG-enabled chases. Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.

Share story

There are monsters. There are trucks. There are monsters inside trucks.

Ta-dah! We give you “Monster Trucks.”

A simple concept.

Movie Review ★½  

‘Monster Trucks,’ with Lucas Till, Jane Levy, Barry Pepper, Thomas Lennon, Rob Lowe, Holt McCallany. Directed by Chris Wedge, from a screenplay by Derek Connolly. 104 minutes. Rated PG for action, peril, brief scary images, and some rude humor. Several theaters.

Simple-minded, that is.

Most Read Stories

3-course dinners for $32 starting April 2.

What we’ve got is a lower-rent variation on the Transformers template. A sentient vehicle bonds with a rebellious teen (Lucas Till), and away they go on a series of high-speed CG-enabled chases involving lots of squealing tires and catapulting trucks whose resale value drops to next to nothing when they spectacularly crash-land.

However, it’s not all mindless fun and vroom-vroom games, as there is a way-obvious environmental message underlying the vroom vroom.

The monsters — rubbery ugly-as-sin multitentacled critters — are peaceable inhabitants of a vast underground lake that — poor them — lies atop an even more vast pool of oil. A rapacious drilling outfit run by an odious executive (played with maximum smarm by Rob Lowe) aims to drill right down through the creatures’ home to get his mitts on the black gold, eradicating them in the process. Feel free to boo here, especially since the lower-than-low Lowe character is aided and abetted in his badness by a black-clad private-security thug (Holt McCallany) who addresses the monster-befriending boy thusly: “I’ll hurt you, kid.” Mr. Sadist, at your service.

As I said: simple-minded.

The main monster comes up out of the ground, slides its way into the engine compartment of the Till character’s junker pickup and transforms the heap into a wall-climbing rooftop-running super vehicle. Many are the delighted “wahoos!” heard from the kid when that happens.

Literally along for the ride is a brainy girl classmate of Till’s character (Jane Levy) who quickly falls under the lad’s grinning spell.

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.