How bad is “Monster Trucks”? Conceived quite literally by a 4-year-old — the son of former Paramount Pictures president Adam Goodman — the movie is held in such low esteem that the studio reportedly took a $115 million write-down on it before its release. Its arrival midway through January, always a bleak movie month, suggests Paramount would rather forget it ever brought it up.

For all that, “Monster Trucks” isn’t a complete fiasco. If you didn’t know what it cost, you wouldn’t rate it much worse than most of the kiddie stuff listed under the “suggestions” menu on your favorite streaming platform. “Monster Trucks” is the kind of junk movie desperate parents frequently turn to in order to get a couple hours’ peace.

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It’s directed by Chris Wedge, whose animated “Ice Age” movies have been serving that same function for years. “Monster Trucks” stars Lucas Till (of CBS’ “MacGyver” reboot) as Tripp, a high schooler in North Dakota who wants only one thing. No, not a girlfriend, as his moony classmate Meredith (Jane Levy) knows too well, but an engine for his truck. What Tripp doesn’t know is that the Terravex oil company has just drilled into an underground ecosystem, releasing a strange life form that guzzles oil and has the ability to spin an axle at high speed.

When boy meets creature — nicknamed “Creech” — it’s a match made in heaven. Creech, a CGI character who probably guzzled most of the movie’s cash, too, is an unlovely octopus-manatee hybrid with floppy tentacles and spiny teeth, but when Tripp discovers the big fella is also a living engine, they’re off to the races. Well, figuratively speaking; one of this movie’s many missed opportunities is that Tripp and Creech never take to a track to strut their stuff. Instead, they spend their time eluding Terravex bad guys and re-enacting the bicycle scene from “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.”

Till and Levy look way too old to be teenagers (they’re in their mid-20s), yet their roles seem written for children. They’re supported by several fine but wasted actors, among them Amy Ryan as Tripp’s mom, Thomas Lennon as a knock-kneed scientist, Rob Lowe as a ruthless oil baron and Barry Pepper as the local sheriff. The simple-minded script, written by four grown adults, makes them all seem like amateurs. That said, my 9-year-old loved “Monster Trucks,” so maybe there’s hope for this movie yet.