Rumors of a Twister sequel coming up on the horizon have brought back vivid memories of the first time I saw what I consider to be possibly the worst movie I’ve ever seen.
That’s strong language so let me qualify it a bit. Twister is probably the worst movie I’ve ever seen which was really trying to be a real, legitimate movie. It’s so comically awful, so chock full of clichés, so uninspired and reliant on CG effects, that when I watch it now I kind of like it. From where I’m sitting, it seems like a hilarious parody of itself.
Twister is a hybrid of two kinds of movie, the monster movie and the disaster flick. It would have been hard to hammer it together with the normal disaster flick formula – one of my favorite formulas, by the way, don’t think I’m some kind of movie snob – because tornados don’t last very long.
Usually, in a disaster flick, you’ve got a hero dude and a brilliant and beautiful scientist girl, and they don’t have much in common except they both agree the disaster is coming. But bureaucrats don’t want to believe the disaster is coming, because it isn’t convenient for them. So the two mismatched brilliant hot people have to join forces and possibly have some sex in the course of warning everyone about the disaster, and getting them to safety.
A little bit tricky with a tornado, since they don’t last very long and they’re pretty localized, and there’s really no way that the hot dude and the hot scientist girl would know exactly where they were going to strike.
So I understand why they merged with the monster movie formula. Twister came out not long after Jurassic Park re-invented the monster movie with its incredible CG dinosaurs, and many of the same talents were brought to bear on Twister. Michael Crichton wrote Jurassic Park, including work on the screenplay, and he wrote the screenplay for Twister as well. Steve Spielberg executive produced both movies.
It was really a good bet – I understand it. They were going to do for disaster movies what the same crew and their cutting edge special effects did for monster movies.
But the result was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen.
Bill Paxton plays – wait for it – Bill. He doesn’t seem to have a last name, just Bill. And what he does is he leads a tornado chasing unit.
That’s already a stretch. This is a crew of tornado chasers who appear to have no other vocations, so you might be wondering what they do in the wintertime, and you might not. I was kind of wondering, but okay – let’s get on board. They’re tornado chasers.
And it turns out there’s an evil crew of tornado chasers led by Cary Elwes. As the soulless, arrogant leader of a group of super-funded tornado chasers who literally drive around in a caravan of all-black vehicles, this guy – Dr. Jonas Miller – is the only character in the movie with a first and last name.
He uses sophisticated Tornado Tracking Computers, and evil, frat guy scarves. “He’s all about the technology,” Bill says. “He’s got no heart!”
Or something like that. I was having trouble buying the first batch of tornado chasers with no other jobs, but it turns out they have an arch enemy group of tornado chasers. It’s a crazy world.
Then there’s Helen Hunt. She plays Jo, and her dad was killed by a big tornado, which apparently is still out there, lurking around. She’s kind of looking for it, so she can get revenge on it.
The most hilarious scene in the movie involves a discussion about the classifications of tornados. Bill and his crew are an independent, free-thinking group of multicultural cats who drive around in rainbow cars and have picnics like a big family, and as they are hanging around demonstrating how cool and different they are from the evil tornado chasers, they like to shoot the breeze, you know?
Some of the other knuckleheads are reminiscing about their tornado chasing adventures. Remember that F2 we saw out in Nebraska? Yeah, but that’s nothing compared to the F3 we saw outside of Topeka. Sure, but remember the F4 we saw in that other place?
See, F1 is a little tornado, and the bigger the number, one through five, after the F, the bigger the tornado.
You’re probably wondering if they ever saw an F5, and so was Jami Gertz, who I think is the one who asks them if they’ve ever seen one, and then everybody freezes up, like the jukebox just skipped, and their eyes grow huge and horrified.
We don’t talk about no F5s, they tell her, like a creepy Scooby Doo caretaker. You don’t want to be asking nothing about no F5 tornados! Ain’t nobody heard nothing about no gol’ durn F5 tornados!
Like maybe put up a sign, if you’re all going to sit around snapping each other on the ass with towels regarding the first four kinds, and nobody’s supposed to ask about the fifth.
See, it turns out that an F5 tornado killed Jo’s dad, that’s why you aren’t supposed to bring them up.
Because that particular pattern of moving air, that’s something she’s got a vendetta against. She has a lot of feelings of rage and depression and loss, with regards to patterns of moving air classified in that manner. So you can talk all you want about similar, smaller patterns of moving air, but for God’s sake, don’t nobody bring up F5s.
The clear implication is that Jo is not crazy – this really is the same tornado that killed her dad. It’s kind of been hanging out in the prairie, living off the land, maybe wearing a hat and a disguise to the bus station sometimes to hit the vending machines and wash up at a sink.
In fact, when they stop at someone’s Aunt Meg’s house for a great big, down home meal – unannounced, with eight or ten people, but cool – the very same F5 tornado tracks them down, and destroys her house the next day.
Something’s got to be done about these F5 tornados, Aunt Meg tells them. Like the tornados are a group of young thugs and she’s talking to Walker, Texas Ranger.
Now it’s personal. Bill and Jo and the gang are extra super definitely going to get that tornado, it can’t just keep pushing old people around at the park. It’s mothergrabbin’ on, now.
What they’re trying to do is leave a little data-collecting robot directly in the path of the tornado. This thing then gathers data, the sort of meterological data which is for some reason far superior to satellite imagery of weather patterns, you know how it is. It’s scientific data, so don’t bother trying to grasp it. How does it work? It works fine.
And even though it’s sophisticated technology, there is apparently no way to hook it up to remote control or anything. They have to drive their truck right at tornados and drop it off. That’s exactly what you’re not supposed to do, by the way.
Their truck is a cool truck, which can stay on the ground driving when cows and barns are flying around, so that’s something they have going for them. And I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but yes, they manage to get that daddy-killing tornado, and they get it good.
“Look at all that data!” They all shout, and play some Van Halen.
Now they’re thinking about doing a sequel. Perhaps the twister which killed Jo’s dad has a twin brother, and it’s out for revenge. Or worse, it could be the zombie ghost of a vampire tornado – freaky!
They could put Samuel Jackson in it, for a little profanity and racial tension. Maybe even throw in an F6 – that would throw everyone for a loop. We didn’t even know an F6 was possible last time.
Hell with it, I just realized that they’re right. I’ll probably see the sequel on day one. What am I complaining about?