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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Twister

Starring: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton
Director: Jan De Bont
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 113 Minutes
Release Date: May 1996
Genres: Action, Drama

*Also starring: Gregory Sporleder, Sean Whalen, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Lois Smith, Alan Ruck, Jeremy Davies, Todd Field

Review by Brian Koller
3 stars out of 4

"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 knowledge.

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 afterwards.

"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

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