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1996, dir. Jan de Bont
113 min. Rated PG-13.
Starring: Helen Hunt, Chet Paxton, Farmboy Westley, Cameron Frye.

Review by Chad Shonk

TWISTER, huh? Whooptie Fuckin' Doo.

This is a movie about stupid people who ride around in sports utility vehicles chasing tornados around the midwest. You remember the good old days when our protagonists were SMART? What the fuck are these people thinking? "Let's see. I could be a doctor. I could be a lawyer. I could be a mortician. Nah, I think I'm gonna hop in a Ford Bronco II and chase fucking twisters!"

So at the beginning of the movie you've got Bill "My Name is Chet" Paxton and Helen Hunt, who was, incidently, married to that guy from that old show Herman's Head who was also the fag housekeeper in THE BIRDCAGE, who play a couple who are just about to get divorced. Hmmm. I wonder if they're gonna get back together. I wonder. I FUCKING WONDER. According to Hollywood, no one ever gets fucking divorced. They just talk about it. I don't know why anyone should ever get divorced. If you feel your marriage is in trouble, just have a near fatal experience. Get involved with terrorists. Enlist on a doomed underwater drilling platform. Or go chase a fucking tornado. I guarantee you that by the time the credits roll, you'll be back in love again.

So Chet and Jamie Buchman are chasing tornados. I keep repeating this because it's too damn stupid to belive. This is the plot to the fucking movie! So the "Game Over Man" guy and the chick from NEXT OF KIN are chasing tornados but they hit a snag. Their rivals are also about today.

Their rivals? So now there a two opposing factions of storm chasers (?), but don't worry, you won't get confused. You see, these other storm fuckers are EVIL! How do we know they're evil? I'm glad you asked.

1) They wear black and they drive in black cars. What a motif! I bet the director studied under Ingmar Bergman or something. I mean ...huh?..wait a minute. What? No. You've got to be fucking kidding me. My distingished collegue has just pointed out that the director, Juan Da Butt, or something like that, studied under Paul "I suck a dick the size of a cruise missile" Verhoven. That would explain his knack for clever subtlety.

2) Their leader is Cary "As you wish" Elwes. He doesn't always play bad guys, but the fact that he is a fairly big name in a small role denotes the fact that he must be the villian. I will admit, TWISTER is a better movie than THE CRUSH. Except THE CRUSH had Alicia Silverstone. Tuff choice.

3) They're in it for the money. Wait a minute. Let me check my notes. Yes, THEY'RE IN IT FOR THE MONEY! Because there's SO much money to be made in chasing goddamn tornados. They drive in fancy cars and they've got sophisticated equipment. They must be evil. They have money.

4) They get killed in the end. The only people who die in this film are the bad guys. Because tornados are so goddamned moral. They only kill bad people, people who are out to exploit tornadoes FOR THE MONEY.

I'll admit that the special defects in the movie are pretty damn good. When I saw it in the theater, when the badass surround sound kicked in, it felt like you were in a damn tornado. Not that live ever wanted to be in a tornado, but it was kinda cool. This leads me to the real question: You're making a movie that relies heavily on a few key special effects. You have, however, enlisted the help of industrial Lights and Magic, THE special effects firm to go to. Okay. You've given your money to ILM, you know it's gonna turn out okay (unless you're the makers of SPAWN, but I'm convinced they had a coupon or something). So, as far as the tornados go, you've got no worrys. They're not your concern. They're gonna be great.

You'd think that you'd spend some time developing THE FUCKING SCRIPT!

Looking back at this review, I realize that it's not very funny. But it's hard to be funny about something like this. This is fucking sad. TWISTER made like over 200 million dollars at the box office. CHASING AMY only made ten, and SLING BLADE barely more than that. So, critics and film buffs such as myself are vastly outnumbered by the people who want to see Ah-nold blowing the shit out of stuff. Is 99% of the world just fucking stupid, or have I just seen so many movies that absolutely nothing surprises me? The world oohs and ahhs at films such as AIR FORCE ONE and THE LOST WORLD while I yawn, not being able to comprehend how they can be on the edge of their seats. When a film is incredibly well made like a FACE/OFF or APOLLO 13 or SCREAM I get a kick out of it, but they're still just Hollywood formula. Has my passion for movies destroyed my love of movies? We have to turn to independent filmmakers to find anything unpredictable or exciting. Which is more exciting: Karl Childers' difficult decision whether or not to bring about an end to Doyle's reign of terror, to kill again; or Sly Stallone shooting the shit out of three hundred damn Iraqi terrorists with an M-60 without getting so much as a scratch? I would say the former. Everyone else says the latter.

It's not just movies. More people read Stephen King, Danielle Steele, and John Grisham than have ever read Kurt Vonnegut, J.D. Salinger, or Walter Mosley. Comic books like MADMAN and HELLBOY will eventually fade into obscurity while shit like the X-MEN and SPAWN top the charts, and while shittier shit like BARB WIRE and BLADE get their own movies. The only place quality seems to correspond with ratings is (ironically) television, where (with the exception of NewsRadio) good shows get pretty good ratings. Writing is king on television, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The writing on a given episode of Frasier, Seinfeld, or NewsRadio is superlative to 9 out of 10 Hollywood blockbusters (notable exceptions: JERRY MAGUIRE and SCREAM).

So I guess I'm a snob. And I'm tired of hiding it. I'm a fucking snob, okay? I like arthouse movies and foreign flicks and movies that I need a secret David Lynch decoder ring to figure out. I still enjoy Hollywood crud, but I will forever look upon it condesendingly. There is no chance of Harrison Ford dying at the end of the action movie. Of course the nice guy is going to get the girl at the end of the romantic comedy. And of course the villain is going to die a gristly and unimaginative death at the end of the political thriller. So don't expect me to be on the edge of my seat.

I'll pay my six dollars, sit for two hours, and come out the same as I went in. Then I'll go home and pop in my copy of SE7EN, a film that starts off as a formulaic buddy cop movie and evolves into something completely original, or SLING BLADE, a movie that is so character driven it is unlike anything you've ever seen, or THE PLAYER, a film that only has a happy ending because Robert Altman hates happy endings.

I don't blame him.


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