"Twister" is a surprisingly entertaining blockbuster, with
terrific special effects (e.g. tornadoes), a frantic plot,
and a love triangle. It is also unintentionally a comedy,
adding another dimension to the sometimes overdone dialogue
and action scenes.
Bill Paxton tracks down estranged wife Helen Hunt to get her to sign
divorce papers, so he can marry sex therapist Jami Gertz. Hunt does
not want the divorce, and manipulates Paxton into chasing tornadoes
with her. They soon encounter one tornado after another,
risking their lives under the pretense of gaining scientific
It is almost too easy to poke holes in "Twister". So many
tornadoes, so many close calls, with Paxton always knowing where
to head the car so that their lives can be risked again.
Tornadoes hit them while they watch a drive-in movie, then
wreck their beloved Aunt's house. Fortunately, the only
casualties from all these funnels are the plagiarizing,
richly financed rival storm chasing team. When Paxton and Hunt
are chased by the final, most menacing twister, it never
seems to gain on them, just like a proverbial train approaching
a beautiful woman tied to the railroad tracks.
Gertz is present to add urgency to Hunt's machinations,
and to ask layman questions so that the storm team's actions
can be cogently explained to the audience. Paxton and Hunt
overact (Paxton gets physically angry when teased about his
weatherman stint). None of these "flaws" keep the film from
being good, however. Something else is going on, and that is
the film may actually be a comedy, an unintentional but thankful
result of energetic director Jan de Bont.
The storm chasing team is similar to a wolfpack. Paxton is the
alpha male, Hunt the alpha female. Gertz becomes the beta female,
and quits because she "can't compete." They roam the
countryside looking for a kill (a tornado) and celebrate
"Twister" can be viewed at many levels: as an entertaining
spectacle, as a formula for a blockbuster, and as a latent
comedy. However you choose to accept it, it is worth seeing.
Copyright © 1996 Brian Koller