As a parent of two daughters — one a preteen, the other who's almost eight — I am uncertain about whether I'd take my kids to see Monster Trucks, which hits theaters this Friday the 13th.
Starring Lucas Till from the rebooted series #MacGyver and even some big-name draws like Rob Lowe and Danny Glover, Monster Trucks has everything kids might enjoy — action, friendship, fun-looking monster trucks. However, the concept of a slithery, tentacled "pet" living inside a huge truck is somewhat off-putting, to say the least. Last year Paramount Pictures, the studio behind this action adventure, had even warned shareholders to anticipate a huge turkey, as the studio had already taken a $115 million write-down in projected losses because of the flick.
The studio might not be wrong. According to Variety, the idea for the movie was conceived by former studio president Adam Goodman's four-year-old son, and while monster trucks might have a certain universal appeal — boys, after all, are not the only people to enjoy big, noisy engines and cool stunts — there isn't much here to appeal to a female demographic. Sure, Jane Levy of Don't Breathe pops in as the female lead and love interest, but the message for girls seems to be that really, your role is limited to that of sidekick/girlfriend.
It's Creech, the monster living inside Tripp's truck, that younger viewers may not be drawn to. With my own kids, anytime a slimy, tentacled creature hits the screen, they know something bad is about to go down, so seeing this sort of creature try to be appealing is a bit of a stretch. Are the ideas in Monster Trucks cute? Absolutely. Is the notion of friendship in any form an important idea for kids to grab onto? Definitely. Is it realistic that this friendship develop from one stuffing the other inside his truck?
Themes of being stifled and confined within a friendship, which is contrary to what most parents likely teach their kids about how to be a friend, seem to spring from that idea, yet it's one that apparently drives Tripp and Creech's friendship. It's doubtful that parents or kids will feel overly comfortable with what develops between Tripp and #Creech.
The problem with the notions presented in #MonsterTrucks is that while the idea of friendship being found in the unlikeliest of places is definitely one that many of us live on a daily basis, it's a tough sell for young audiences that a creature who looks like Creech would forge a special relationship with Tripp. I am hoping I'm wrong — I truly enjoy kids movies and what they offer — but Monster Trucks might be trying to do too much with its story with too little behind it.
Will you be seeing Monster Trucks when it's released on January 13? Check out the trailer and sound off in the comments below.
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