A throwback to the 1980s family creature features, this achieves at least Batteries Not Included levels of charm, though it never approaches the heights of E.T. A ludicrous concept is given pace and goofy humour but it doesn’t give its human characters enough room to shine amid the set piece car chases.
We open at a fresh oil exploration site, where Rob Lowe’s rapacious company boss is concerned to hear that the drill has hit water and may have to stop and investigate this new ecosystem. He pushes ahead anyway, resulting in a blowback that releases several strange, large creatures onto the surface. Two are swiftly captured; but one escapes, and hides in a junkyard.
Meanwhile, Tripp (Lucas Till) is a put-upon teen who’s building his own truck in the yard. He encounters this intelligent squid-like thing, and ends up hiding it, in the shell of his truck, from the oil company’s security goons. Tripp and bright chemistry student Meredith (Jane Levy) must then protect his new friend and rescue the two captive creatures, in a story as old as special effects.
Objectively ridiculous but mostly fun.
The model is familiar but still largely effective for family audiences, but this can’t quite sing as it should. Perhaps that’s partly down to the fact that this country does not, largely, worship at the altar of the unfeasibly huge pick-up truck. Mostly, however, it’s the underdeveloped characters. The monster is sweetly puppy-ish and well realised, but Tripp himself veers from childish silliness to action hero machismo too often to convince. Amy Ryan, as Tripp’s mother, is thrown away on barely half a scene, while Barry Pepper isn’t quite foolish enough as the disbelieving local sheriff. Only Levy’s smitten brainbox and Thomas Lennon’s squirrely scientist inject the necessary humour to keep us going until am entertaining action finale.