Tripp, a popular high school senior, just can’t wait to leave his small North Dakota town. His parents have split; his father works for an unethical oil-drilling company and is estranged from Tripp. His mother is dating Rick, the local sheriff, who has recently moved into their home. Tripp has a friend in the elderly keeper of a local junkyard, who has given Tripp the body of a car; if Tripp can make it run, he’ll have a nice set of wheels to ride around town.
The drilling company has discovered an underground community of giant creatures, but they are hoping to secretly kill all of the creatures so that they can continue drilling without having to stop; the environmentalists would not let them kill off a species, so the drilling company is hoping to keep it quiet. One of the creatures has escaped their grasp, and has taken a liking to Tripp – and has taken up residence in the body of Tripp’s car. Together, Tripp and the creature run from the drilling company’s thugs who intend to hurt Tripp and kill the creature.
*SPOILERS AHEAD THE REST OF THE WAY*
The Adoption Connection
Tripp’s parents are separated. His mother has a new live-in boyfriend who is initially impatient with Tripp. Tripp’s father appears to betray him.
We eventually learn that the creature with Tripp is a child who is just trying to reunite with his parents, who have been captured by the drilling company.
Tripp, his tutor, and a scientist take brave actions to save the endangered creatures.
Rick and Tripp appear to have a promising relationship by the end of the film.
Tripp’s father betrays him. Tripp responds by driving a truck through his father’s trailer.
Rick is impatient with Tripp, and thinks ill of Tripp’s father. He tells Tripp, “you’re gonna wind up just like your dad,” which angers Tripp.
Tripp tries to tell Rick about the creature, but Rick doesn’t believe him and instead scolds him. This results in Tripp being pursued by the drilling company’s thugs.
The plot seems thin, villains seem caricatured, and the protagonists are rather forgettable. This could appeal to some kids ages 9-12; there are some opportunities to talk about bravery, being believed, and doing the right thing even when others are pressuring you to do the wrong thing.
Questions for Discussion
How do you speak to your kids about their birth parents?
Why didn’t Rick believe Tripp about the creature?
Tell me about a time when you’ve done the right thing even when others were pressuring you to do something different.