271. Twister

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Movie: Twister

Release Date: May 10, 1996

Director: Jan de Bont

Starring: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Jami Gertz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cary Elwes.

Tag Lines: “The Dark Side of Nature.”

“Don’t Breathe. Don’t Look Back.”

“Go for a ride you’ll never forget!”

“The Beautiful yet Destructive side to life.”

Relevance: ‘Twister’ was one of those big summer box office movies that everyone was talking about when it was released in 1996. Only ‘Independence Day’ (see 329. Independence Day) rivaled the buzz surrounding it that year. And like ‘Independence Day,’ as soon as I saw the trailer I knew that I had to see it.

I have always been terrified of thunderstorms. But my real phobia heightened when as a pre-teen I spent a week away from parents with my Aunt, Uncle and their family in New Jersey. I am guessing it was 1982 or 1983, but my old brain really can’t remember exactly. Overall it was a delightful time away from the rest of my family. I had fun playing games in the basement and baseball in the yard, watching movies and laughing with my cousins. On one of those nights, there was a storm. A storm to end all storms. I often think when I am describing it that I am being a tad over-dramatic, but then I start to remember the details. And I realize I am not. It was horrific. Rain, wind, lightening, thunder, everything that happens in a storm happened but at a very intense level. It was bad enough that at one point all children ran into my aunt and uncle’s bedroom. The next day, besides having no power or television, we were able to see the damage done. I never recouped my normalcy when it came to severe weather. To this day, anytime I see the first streak of lightening I unplug everything and run to the basement. (It helps that I now have a bar in the basement.)

Despite that fear of storms, I am equally fascinated with tornadoes. I really don’t know how that fascination started, however knowing my cinematic brain, it was probably ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ I have always wanted to see a tornado. But I’m not that much of an idiot, I want to see it from a very safe distance. Kind of the same way I am fascinated with sharks, I want to see one, I just don’t want to swim into one. So far I have not seen either a tornado or shark up close.

When ‘Twister’ was released in theaters, I was there opening weekend. It was the perfect summer popcorn flick and the type of movie you needed to see on the big screen. I was a big fan of Helen Hunt, mostly from “Mad About You,” so it was great seeing her a part of a big movie like this. It wasn’t a success with critics, except for the visual effects, but it was a huge box office hit and became the second highest grossing movie of 1996 just behind ‘Independence Day.’ I loved every aspect of it. Sure it was a tad unbelievable, but it entertained the hell out of me and unlike the critics, I enjoyed the story and its characters. I have owned the movie since the late 1990’s and have watched it periodically throughout the years.

Today’s Thoughts: Even though I own the DVD, I probably haven’t seen ‘Twister’ in its entirety in a few years. So today with a cup of coffee in my hand and no storm clouds in the forecast, I watched the Jan de Bont epic disaster film.

To my delight, ‘Twister’ held up quite nicely over the years. Unlike ‘Independence Day’ where some of the effects seem a little dated, this movie still seemed fresh. It was fun and exciting and a total escape from reality, something we can all benefit from every now and again.

I don’t understand why critics disliked the story and the characters as today I still enjoyed both. Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton are great together and I enjoyed their banter and chemistry. The rest of the cast from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Alan Ruck to Todd Fields and Cary Elwes all add their special quirkiness to the group adding to the overall entertainment. But Jamie Gertz, who was actually nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress, will always be my favorite in the film. She is delightful and the critics are 100% wrong about her performance. But like I always say, art is subjective.

‘Twister’ is a fun movie and I highly recommend it. While researching it today, I came across something interesting about the movie. Apparently there is the notion that Helen Hunt in ‘Twister’ made some men gay. It’s a real thing. Google it. I am happy (or sad) to report that Helen Hunt in ‘Twister’ did not make me gay. Madonna did.

Sorry Helen.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Sound, Steve Maslow, Gregg Landaker, Kevin O’Connell, Geoffrey Patterson (nomination), Academy Award for Best Effects, Visual Effects, Stefen Fangmeier, John Frazier, Habib Zargarpour, Henry LaBounta (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects, Stefen Fangmeier, John Frazier, Habib Zargarpour, Henry LaBounta (winner).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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