I WENT TO see the movie "Twister" the other night, and not because I thought it would be any good. Stephen Hunter, The Sun's esteemed film critic, called it infantile twaddle, hardly a recommendation for those of us determined to spend our lives twaddle-free.
So I went with my eyes open.
Which was, by the way, my first mistake.
I wasn't two fingers into my popcorn before a big twister nearly lifted me out of my seat, rumble-vision style. I felt like Dorothy on the way to Oz, which is, of course, just the effect they were hoping for. There's even a little girl who almost loses her dog. Fortunately, the dog is saved. Unfortunately, in the same scene, her dad is sucked irretrievably into the vortex, in the most horrifying father-gets-it scene since "The Lion King."
As you might expect, there was much screaming, which would turn out to be portentous. The movie was full of screaming, and also much hot air.
Listen in on some sample dialogue:
"Come on, hurry, hurry."
"Hurry, come on, hurry."
"Hurry, hurry, come on."
The "hurry, hurry" variations would come as the tornadoes bear down on heroic tornado chasers. In the movie, the tornadoes are like an evil force, in which nature seems to take the hunters personally. The wind reminds me of when the shark from "Jaws" bears down on Robert Shaw's leg. Somebody should have told Robert Shaw to hurry.
OK, I hated the movie.
L I knew I was going to hate it going in. So why did I see it?
I went to see the movie to see what was wrong with me (and also the critics, who tend to like movies with subtitles), because everyone else apparently loves the movie. Loves the movie, even though, as far as I'm concerned, you can't possibly do a decent twister movie without Margaret Hamilton.
"Twister" is not just a hit, it's a mega-hit. It's a Robbie-Alomar-sized hit.
In two weeks, it has done $95 million. In the past week, it grossed more than twice the money of the next 10 movies combined.
It's a phenomenon.
It's on the cover of Time. It's on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. And it's probably just a coincidence that Time-Warner, which owns both of the magazines, also owns the movie.
I understand part of what's driving the demand. We have a fascination with wind, with disasters, with flying cows. Yes, there's a flying cow, easily the coolest part of the movie. Save your seven bucks. I'm pretty sure the cow is in the previews.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against tornadoes. I mean, what's not to like? They're big. They're mean. They can make a divot two miles long. But if I want to watch tornadoes without a plot, without a hint of wit, with nothing better than one lousy flying cow, I might as well just tune in to the Weather Channel.
When the Weather Channel isn't giving you all weather all the time, it also hawks tornado videos. It has a tornado wall calendar, which has real pictures of real tornadoes. The Weather Channel is a phenomenon in its own right, the latest place of refuge for people who desperately need to get out more.
the movie, the hero is a former tornado chaser who gives it up to go straight. Yes, he's going to be one of those boring weathermen. Right. You can't imagine Bob Turk as a tornado chaser either. But the hero has to find his wife, also a tornado chaser, to get her to sign divorce papers so he can get on with his life. There's no hint as to why they got divorced, except as a "plot" device, if you can call what they have in this movie a plot.
He brings his fiance with him. And, of course, they both get sucked in, so to speak, on a tornado chase.
Do I have to tell you what happens?
Do I have to tell you that the soon-to-be-wife acts like Estelle Parsons in "Bonnie and Clyde"? Do I have to tell you that the soon-to-be-ex-wife is better looking, wears cool shades and leads a merry group of glassy-eyed dysfunctional techno-nerds who live in, let's say, a parallel universe in which everyone must dress badly.
If you can't figure out what's going to happen, maybe you should see the movie.
I still can't figure out why, but you'll probably like it.
Pub Date: 5/22/96