Have I ever brought my kids to a dirt-filled arena to watch gargantuan-size vehicle smash other trucks? Nope. But it didn’t stop me, my 6-year old and his friend from getting a monster-size kick out of Monster Trucks. And, unfamiliarity with the sport didn’t stop”The Odd Couple’s” Thomas Lennon from agreeing to star in the film.
“The giant truck in that movie is the only time I’ve ever been in a large truck of any kind at all. Honestly, the only kind of truck I know is Optimus Prime from the Transformers movies. So, I really only know two trucks and they’re both from movies,” Lennon says.
“I was never one of these people who were into these ‘Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!’ cars-that-crush-other-cars kind of concept – that just never felt like it was up my alley,” he adds.”But, then when I found out it was a family movie and that there’s monsters in the truck, then I thought, ‘well, that’s kind of fun,’ and that’s very much in the genre of movies I like to write and like to see. Now my son [Oliver, 7] is growing up and it’s exactly the kind of movie he likes.”
Indeed, Monster Trucks director Chris Wedge says the film is really about a couple of lone wolves who find each other.”I wanted to tell a story about two misfits, two outcasts that find a friendship together. One is our teenage protagonist Tripp [Lucas Till] who feels like an outsider at home, and the other one is this weird creature [‘Creech’] who comes into our world, a species we’ve never seen before.”
Creech, while wildly fictitious, was created from the idea of something real. Wedge says in trying to formulate a creature which would be vulnerable on land and inspiration struck while he browsing the internet.”I found a YouTube video of an octopus on the deck of a fishing boat,” he says.”It just looked like a booger that was trying to escape, it looked so awkward. It’s so graceful and fast underwater, but on land it couldn’t move its tentacles. But, it could slip in little areas and through holes and get back into the water.”
“I thought, Tripp finds this creature and he wants to hide it and protect it,” Wedge says.”It could fit in his truck and maybe there’s fun ways to turn the truck into a super suit, it could do all those things: it can hide and move in exciting and surprising ways.”
Jane Levy (Don’t Breathe,”Suburgatory”), who plays Tripp’s homework-buddy turned ally Meredith, says,”I really am a fan of the way Creech turned out, he’s pretty cute. He looks like… a whale squid? I don’t know. But, they did a really fantastic job.”
Meredith’s bookworm could be called a”strong, independent female character,” but a better term might be”a parent’s dream.” Levy concurs.”Meredith is into learning, but she’s not a dork; she’s just a curious person who is smart and enjoys school. What I like about her is that, at the same time, she’s not a typical character in a movie like where she’s really insecure and uncomfortable around the cute guy. She’s actually very comfortable with herself and a self-possessed young lady who also has crushes on boys. I like that she’s not a weak character, either. I, too, admire Meredith as a young woman! I’m sure she’ll change the world one day. She might’ve by the end of the movie!”
Lennon’s character, a corporate geologist, is more layered than the traditional evil-yet-nerdy scientist often depicted in kids’ movies.”I was trying to create a character who you didn’t feel was textbook. I mean, I do wear glasses – that’s close to being ‘nerdy’ in a film!” Lennon says.”In my mind, [my character] Dowd is kind of a cool geologist, one of the coolest geologists from his geology department.”
Indeed, the day after the screening, my son announced,”Do you know who I liked in Monster Trucks? I liked the scientist because he is a scientist, he is cool, and he wears glasses.” Mission Accomplished, Thomas Lennon.
Levy says making the film was a fantastic experience because she loves animation and has been a longtime fan of Wedge, best known as the creator of the Ice Age movies. However, her favorite part was actually seeing the film.”I saw it in a theater full of families. They were really vocal, there was lots of laughter from the kids – and parents, too! That was really satisfying because I love kids and I am happy that I could make an experience that young minds could enjoy.”
Again, to listen to my two young film companions, who spent two hours in peals of laughter and squeals of delight, I’d say: Mission Accomplished, Monster Trucks.