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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.54%
Worth A Look: 15.49%
Average: 7.04%
Pretty Bad: 16.9%
Total Crap38.03%

5 reviews, 112 user ratings

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Twister (1996)
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by Mrs. Norman Maine

"Weather patterns upstage every human in sight"
1 stars

Michael Crichton and Jan DeBont team up to make a truly hideous film about the weather. The special effects are a lot of fun, but fast forward through all the bits with stupid humans talking to each other.


Norman's return to the silver screen in Troma Studio's trailer park version of The School for Scandal has been somewhat delayed. A tornado wiped out the Pot O' Gold Trailer Park last night and no other location could be secured quickly. The project is on hold. Fortunately, no trailer residents were seriously injured although I understand several beehive hairdos suffered severe wind damage. Norman is a bit melancholy at the delay; he was so looking forward to returning to work. He was well into his second fifth of Chivas Regal when I awoke this morning. Nurse Tameka and I reattached the restraints and he's napping soundly now.

I finally have a date for the Salina, Utah Sink For Your Supper concert; it is to be this coming Saturday. I am looking forward to working with the Polygamy Polyphonic whose motto is 'The Family That Plays Together Stays Together'. How wholesome. My lovely motorized iceberg and other special effects are en route to Salina via Greyhound as I type. Some new pyrotechnics have been added as it's against the orchestra's family friendly policies for me to lose my skirt in the finale. I'm not quite sure what they will entail, but I have received a very large bill for smudge pots and flash powder, which I have forwarded to Joseph, my manager. I am much too big a star to be worried by such petty details.

As tornadoes have been playing a role in Norman's life this week, I had to rush out and purchase the DVD of Twister , the Jan DeBont popcorn movie of several summers ago. Twister , for those of you who don't remember the saturation media coverage, is the story of intrepid storm chasers in Oklahoma who run around the countryside looking for tornadoes to study. Jan DeBont, who made the reasonable thriller Speed the year before, was enlisted to direct and Michael Crichton, everyone's favorite pseudo-scientific schlock novelist and his wife cobbled together a script, apparently in twenty minutes. We know we're in the heartland for there are endless helicopter shots of amber waves of grain and the score keeps breaking into faux Copeland. I kept expecting Robert Mitchum's stentorian tones to exclaim 'Beef. It's What's For Dinner'.

As I mentioned in a prior review, Speed was an excellent, tight action film as the bus movie was actually only about an hour long. Two other mini-movies, one about an elevator and one about a subway, brought it up to length. Unfortunately, this time DeBont decided to make a single film rather than a triple feature. As two hours of whirling tornadoes would have gotten dull after a short while, he had the writers attempt to come up with a plot. Mr. Crichton and wife must have been short on ideas, as they did not create a plot; they simply borrowed His Girl Friday (which was in turn adapted from MacArthur and Hecht's play The Front Page ) and switched the genders. His Girl Friday is a charming comedy with Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy. Twister is an exercise in idiocy with Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton and Jami Gertz in the equivalent roles. No one is ever going to confuse Bill Paxton with Cary Grant, or even Rosalind Russell. He’s a competent character actor but can’t carry a film. Even the overrated Helen Hunt can’t do a thing with the cardboard character and stock situations she’s handed.
Helen Hunt is a meteorologist obsessed with tornadoes since her father was killed in a twister when she was a child. Her ex-husband and ex-partner, Bill Paxton, returns to find her to get some divorce papers signed (haven't these people ever heard of lawyers?) bringing his new fiancée, Jami Gertz in tow. Jami Gertz is a sex therapist so she can make completely inappropriate comments about her patients' penises and discuss business with her patients over a cell phone in public in the hopes of getting a laugh out of the audience. Of course, the day this triangle meets is the day that the biggest storm in decades happens to move through Oklahoma dropping tornadoes left and right so Helen can chase her dreams of data gathering and reclaim her man. Bill, you see, has invented a fabulous new tornado data-gathering device, quaintly known as 'Dorothy' after you know who, and she wants to show that it works before he heads off for his new life as TV weatherman. (I'm not making this up you know.) Enter Cary Elwes as the requisite villain. He has stolen Bill's idea and marketed it as his own to evil corporate types so the race is on to see which team will win the race to intercept a tornado and gather the data first.

We know that Helen and Bill are the good guys as they are surrounded by a bunch of lovable oddballs whom the screenwriters have forgotten to give any dimension or character. I particularly liked the lone female of the group, who, rather than being given a personality, was issued a Gilligan hat and a pair of granny glasses by wardrobe and told to improvise. A number of good actors such as Alan Ruck and Jeremy Davies are totally wasted in these roles. The only one that makes anything out of his nothing part at all is Philip Seymour Hoffman and his character is so obnoxious, that you wish the others would feed him into the suck zone of the first whirling vortex that appears on the horizon. They still fare better than the bad guys. We know Cary Elwes and company are bad because they all drive identical black SUVs. His crew ended up entirely on the cutting room floor despite some recognizable faces such as Jake Busey and Anthony Rapp hovering in the background. They weren't even given so much as a Gilligan hat in order to create an impression.

Ralph Bellamy, I mean Jami Gertz, has another function other than making penis jokes and inane comments on flying cows. She gets to be the audience surrogate and ask really dumb questions of the storm chasers so that we get all the pseudo-scientific exposition that will let us follow the motivations of these cardboard cut outs as they race through a lot of CGI special effects. Ms. Gertz is not untalented. I hope they paid her well for the embarrassment.

There is one other major character. Helen has an earth mother aunt, played by Lois Smith, who exists in order for an outsider to be placed in mortal danger with her dog and for someone to give the big 'don't give up' speech. Ms. Smith handles these tasks with aplomb but the dog has a more interesting character to play. (Watch for the small cameo that Norman and I both have in one of her scenes as EMTs. I don't much care for it but the residuals did allow us to remodel the downstairs bath.)

Bill and Helen spend a lot of time charging into the heart of tornadoes, dodging debris, logs, farm equipment and the occasional tanker truck. There are, of course, all the usual problems with trying to make their experiments work until the last possible moment, when we get a grand catharsis as everyone gathers around a computer terminal and cheers a whole lot of numbers we can't possibly understand. There is of course the triangle subplot and the villain subplot as well. They resolve exactly as expected according to the rules the 'Write A Screenplay in Six Weeks' correspondence course.

This brings me to the tornadoes themselves. The ILM visual effects folks and the sound departments have worked their usual magic. The twisters are frightening, real, and are the true stars of the show. They should have left out all the stupid human tricks and just let us gaze upon them, their power and their caprice. The DVD with its surround sound and wide screen transfer make the action sequences very exciting and the only reason to waste time with this film.

The DVD contains a commentary track with the director and the head of the visual effects department. They are both well spoken and it's interesting to hear how some of the tricks were done. There are also a couple of short 'Making Of' mini-documentaries and a completely extraneous Van Halen music video that makes the film look like a David Lean picture.

Originally Written 5/29/01
Revised 10/26/02

Flying tractors. Flying cow. Flying daddy. Flying Combine Harvester. Pepsi product placement. Drive-In movie. Drive-In house. Gratuitous country cooking. Kubrick reference. Hitchcock reference. [b] The Fourth Man [/b] reference. Irrigation ditch wallowing. Gratuitous [b] Oklahoma! [/b] sing along.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 10/27/02 14:26:49
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User Comments

7/19/19 Jonathan Flat out goof...flying it. 2 stars
9/04/18 BigTom Review is an interesting take, but nonetheless we always watch..don’t we! 4 stars
9/16/17 morris campbell good effects thats it 1 stars
9/18/13 Jeff Wilder Fantastic FX. Bleh characterization and story. 3 stars
10/13/11 bob I think its a great movie. 5 stars
6/03/10 User Name About as entertaining as a weather report. 1 stars
11/13/09 RealityOfFilms This is a GREAT movie! And it has its funny moments too, which makes it even better! 5 stars
10/21/09 baby doll this movie suck along wit the review 1 stars
1/20/09 Antonina It was so interesting for me. Those tornadoes are terrible things! 5 stars
9/30/08 Jerome C. This will be the last comment. THAT FLICK WAS GREAT! now stop watching it. 4 stars
8/29/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 5 stars
8/05/08 Braniff Don't waste your time with this bullcrap! 1 stars
5/26/08 loser stop swearing this movie was hektic!!!!! 5 stars
4/24/08 donkey this movie can suck a dick 1 stars
12/04/07 christina holsinger it was fucking cool 5 stars
6/18/07 Greyson Best movie, seen it a million times and never gets old, who cares if its realistic or not 5 stars
5/21/07 Keith Saw it for like the 23rd time this weekend. Never gets old. Some slow parts in the middle. 5 stars
5/07/07 Lloyd Fucking stupid ass movie 1 stars
4/26/07 David Risser Good movie about tornadoes/one of my favorite disaster movies 4 stars
4/02/07 Travis Hoffman totally gret, I watch it every day.helen hunt is fuckin hot. twister is great 5 stars
2/23/07 Weblynx Great special effects, really good movie 5 stars
2/18/07 Nick Maday Good fun. I like it mostly for Jami Gertz's character. 3 stars
2/06/07 Matt Flying cow, the fx are great! The story's silly, but this isn't about intelligent scripts. 4 stars
12/10/06 Danielle my alltime fav. movie 5 stars
12/01/06 David Pollastrini great fx 5 stars
10/15/06 JM Synth Not very good, but if you liked ID4 in 96, you're no better than anyone Slyder. 2 stars
9/16/06 jcp loved it 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Best f#%*ing film ever made, I distinctly remember exiting the theater revved up&awed 5 stars
6/18/06 chienne Is Helen Hunt only capable of playing Bitch Supreme in every movie she's in? 3 stars
5/27/06 Sheena Love it. Action, adventure, death and love. 5 stars
5/12/06 Fruit-Loop Good but lacks X Factor 6.6/10 4 stars
2/13/06 Anthony One of the Greatest movies of 1996 4 stars
1/03/06 cody I give this visual effect mind blowing movie, with decent story , good perf. helen***1/2 4 stars
11/15/05 Kayla I absolutely love this movie. It makes me want to seriously be a tornado chaser. Im only 16 5 stars
10/19/05 Quigley this is the best and only good natural disaster movie. awesome visuals and great sound! 5 stars
9/30/05 lilly this movie totally kicked Ass!! I swear they NEED to make another one!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/11/05 ES Ugh, check your editing there de Bont, is the windshield on the truck smashed or not? 2 stars
6/30/05 darick God! I f****ing hated this movie as a 7-yr old, and still do f****ing hate it 1 stars
5/26/05 tony Once again another one hit wonder by Jan De Bont. This movie was great! 4 stars
4/25/05 sunny it was a pretty not so eye catching movie untill the cow flew across the T.V screen. 4 stars
3/06/05 Nate Awesome movie 5 stars
8/14/04 G-man great weather movie 5 stars
8/02/04 jade farrell twister is the worlds best moviue i have seen 5 stars
6/02/04 M. Arnold I liked the movie. It made me want to study more about tornados. 4 stars
5/31/04 Zierra Langham I think it sucked it can be a little more cooler and moveable. 2 stars
5/11/04 cat i liked it 5 stars
2/24/04 Anna an extremely boring pathetic film the special effects are good though 2 stars
1/29/04 Marlyn Jones i can't belive peple say it's bad! there is more to this movie than most than you think! 4 stars
1/05/04 Lyz total crap, not many actual facts, they need to learn how to act 1 stars
12/07/03 john no story whatsoever - bad acting - laughable villains and effects that don't hold up 1 stars
9/25/03 jimmy d while i was at the theater a tornado hit and killed my father! 1 stars
6/15/03 Jack Sommersby No characters nor story -- just butt-fucking f/x. Who cares? 1 stars
4/04/03 Jack Bourbon Maybe if we drive INTO the tornado, we can get a better look! 1 stars
3/20/03 May Q. Horney Helen Hunt's character just too contentious in this one. 3 stars
3/02/03 Jamie Meola What are you people talking about?! This is a great movie!! 5 stars
1/31/03 jeremy Bad when excluding Helen Hunt, totally atrocious when including her. 1 stars
1/05/03 R.W. Welch Cardboard characters, but lots of good flying debris. 2 stars
11/17/02 Nevz pants. 1 stars
11/13/02 COLLEEN GREAT PLOT 5 stars
10/31/02 Linley I liked it, I love everyting about tornadoes, so i had to check it out! 5 stars
10/29/02 STEVE BOY IS IT BAD. 2 stars
10/29/02 José this film is not a masterpiece ... but I enjoy it very much 5 stars
9/30/02 Charles Tatum Oh, c'mon, don't take it so seriously 4 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock Total wank 1 stars
9/25/02 movie guy great 5 stars
8/31/02 Ken Great special effects, everything else sucked donkey dick. C'mon - an EVIL METEOROLOGIST?? 1 stars
8/26/02 Z This is shit. The characters are paper thin and peeling at the edges. IT SUCKS....hard 1 stars
7/05/02 Ken Come on - an EVIL METEOROLOGIST? Even Disney villians have one dimension. 1 stars
6/07/02 stud NEAT 3 stars
4/10/02 NWO4LIFE Fun, but repetitive 3 stars
4/03/02 Butterbean Awesome effects and great story. This movie deserves it's $241million profit. 5 stars
1/24/02 Andrew Carden Milking Cows Is Better Then Watching This. 1 stars
11/30/01 The $1.98 Pyramid The tornadoes are worth a look, the characters are laughable. 4 stars
11/13/01 Tam Forgettable SFX-laden flick with no plot/performances to speak of. 2 stars
11/03/01 Chris Batchelor Better than other people's opinino, esp. within the meteorological standpoint! 5 stars
8/10/01 Mr. Hat I didn't think it was too bad. 3 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Cool effetcs, but the rest is pure goat spunk. 1 stars
7/31/01 Henry Ginsberg Boring 2 stars
12/20/00 The Evil Penguin HEY!!! 4 stars
11/26/00 Cristopher Revilla Good visual effects, not so good of a story, and a very fucked up ending 2 stars
10/15/00 Ant Brilliant special effects. BUT, the acting and script are among the worst in movie history 2 stars
7/12/00 Terrie Smith Great special effects; boring personal story line. 3 stars
4/16/00 Thrill seeker Home theater or big screen only for viewing. Ignore the plot, ride from twister to twister. 5 stars
3/24/00 David Rogers I seen the script the writer for this movie had for Godzilla, and it was crappy as this. 1 stars
2/17/00 Bozo A decent effect or two but illogical and hunt would ruin a perfectly good blowjob 2 stars
2/16/00 Kyle Broflovski Substance-free squared. But I still saw it 3 times. I'm a ducking fumbass, I guess... 2 stars
1/10/00 Will hey, look, a movie about wind 1 stars
7/24/99 Hagbard Celine Would've been okay if Bill Paxton had been struck and killed by a flying cow. 1 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg This is probably the stupidest film ever. But also the FUNNEST. 4 stars
6/04/99 Ah Dooey Simply said: Awful. Truly awful. 1 stars
5/04/99 Big Dog Bill Paxton is horrible, How can he get acting roles? Bill Paxton you suck! 1 stars
4/28/99 WindSuck This movie SUCKED and BLEW! 1 stars
4/21/99 lucas jackson it is one fucking piece of shit,it makes Titanic look good,fuck twister 1 stars
3/18/99 Max Bernstein Damn you Bill Paxton. Damn you straight to Hell. 1 stars
12/31/98 Todd As bad as Lost World 1 stars
12/04/98 Shadow Raider God awful. Sappy FX and plot, shit story.ID4 sucked even more. 1 stars
11/24/98 Fred Uppa yo ass, movie!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
11/10/98 Hugh Jass Wind? Twist? Wind? Choo-choo-choose me and... Goddamit! 1 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob Loved the flying cows, but WHERE THE HELL WAS THE PLOT! 3 stars
10/18/98 katherine nice effects, but a little boring at times. 4 stars
10/13/98 tw not bad 5 stars
10/10/98 KrazNutz You can't tell me that Hollywood doesn't know 90% of the audience are idiots. This is proof 2 stars
8/31/98 Matt it was like one great big truck commercial 2 stars
8/30/98 Mister Whoopee This movie blew. Get it? BLEW! WIND! BLEW! Haha. It says choo-choo-choose me and... bah. 1 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Same director did Speed 2. Kill him before he breeds. 2 stars
8/23/98 Superfly Terrible, terrible movie. 1 stars
8/21/98 Mike F this movie was ok. only cause I like crappy movies. 3 stars
8/17/98 Johny Taught me a lot about Tornado saftey 1 stars
8/17/98 J-Guy (The MFC) I needed this movie as bad as a stale glass of water and kick in the head. 1 stars
8/16/98 {{{OZ}}} "Quick! Tie your belt to a pipe and the twister won't hurt us!" - Fuck off. 2 stars
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  10-May-1996 (PG)


  02-Jul-1996 (PG)

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