After several years in development, Nickelodeon Films and Paramount Animation have finally released the first trailer for their kid-friendly adventure film Monster Trucks. The film started out as a CGI-animated project, featuring a subterranean creature that is accidentally transported above ground – and befriends a lonely small-town boy. While the title is tongue-in-cheek, to the extent that some adult viewers will likely misunderstand (or roll their eyes at) the film, Monster Trucks was developed by established animation director Chris Wedge (known for helming Ice Age, Robots, and Epic) – making his live action debut.

That’s all to say, while the idea sounds goofy, there’s enough potential in that premise (not to mention heart and over-the-top effects) to thrill young moviegoers – assuming the filmmakers can strike a satisfying balance. Even though we still have a long time to go before the film releases, in January of 2017, the first trailer provides a solid tease for what viewers can expect.

Lucas Till Monster Trucks Movie Tripp Monster Trucks Trailer & First Image: A Monster is in the Truck

In case you’re unfamiliar with Monster Trucks, check out a brief breakdown of the plot, from director Chris Wedge:

Tripp’s town has been transformed by all this oil money. Friends sold land leases and their parents moved across town to bigger houses – and he doesn’t have any of that wealth. He wants to get out of town, so he’s been building a truck at a junkyard out of parts. He thinks he’s about to finish it – and then this thing comes and it gets him into trouble. But he befriends this thing, the creature, and he hides it. The creatures in our world are like octopuses on a beach. This giant thing can hardly move, but once it gets into the truck, it’s a super suit for the creature and it’s a super car for Tripp.

In our Monster Trucks set visit preview, we described the film as E.T. meets Fast & Furious, and the teaser trailer suggests that comparison isn’t far off the mark. Monster Trucks features a lot of practical stunt work – in which the filmmakers launched real trucks off of ramps, high into the air, to showcase what Tripp (played by Lucas Till) and Creatch (his CGI creature counterpart) are able to do when they co-pilot Tripp’s dilapidated truck together.

Monster Trucks Movie Creatch Trailer Monster Trucks Trailer & First Image: A Monster is in the Truck

The film has spent several years in post-production – which could be a sign of trouble or, as evidenced by long-delayed projects that eventually see their time in the sun (such as Cabin in the Woods), a necessary amount of time to get the film “right.” Paramount Animation hasn’t revealed whether the delay has been scheduling-related (waiting for the right time to release) as opposed to a result of trouble behind the scenes; either way, while though the footage isn’t likely to win-over skeptics who scoffed at the movie’s core premise, there’s enough cooky humor and fun action to suggest that younger filmgoers could get behind Monster Trucks – should Wedge have actually delivered a fun boy and his monster best friend movie.

With a sizable budget behind it, and a lot of post-production effects work required to bring the film’s monstrous hero to life, the studio is going to need Monster Trucks to perform well when it hits theaters this winter – especially if they hope to turn Wedge’s film into a full-on franchise.

NEXT: Monster Trucks Preview: E.T. Meets Fast & Furious

Monster Trucks is set for release on January 13, 2017.

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