Old Lady Movie NightOld Lady Movie Night: ‘Twister'Anne T. Donahue

I have a few things to say:

1) Hello! How are you? What’s shaking? Movies? Snacks. Small talk. I’m glad you’re well, you’re looking great.

2) It’s Old Lady Movie Night! The time of the week where I, the resident “old lady” (I say this because I am slowly morphing into Sophia from The Golden Girls and there’s no telling where that’s going to end), take you on a cinematic journey through my (our?) favourite classic films and you listen patiently as I talk/yell at the television like Anges, Principal Skinner’s mother. Thank you for not putting me in a home.

3) This week we’re watching Twister.

And do you want to know why? (No, you answer, but I tell you anyway.) Because this time last week, Ontario began its descent into summer. And while I basked in the unseasonable warmth and my humidity-ridden hair, I was also reminded – through tornado watch warnings – that weather can get a little crazy as these temperatures rise.

The good thing is that the internet exists, so I no longer need to camp out in front of the TV to figure out when/if I should go downstairs. The better thing is that I have finally conquered my fear of thunderstorms (until one happens), and am ready to bask in Twister’s warm glow. The best thing? I own Twister. And I only watch it in the summer, despite it actually being one of my favourite movies in the whole wide world.

So there is that. And to help conquer said fear, I tend to watch Twister. So much so that when Ontario is blanketed in tornado warnings and the like, I sit cocooned in my bedroom, listening to Helen Hunt. And because I know that we’re getting thunderstorms tomorrow (and inevitably, others between now and September), I am going to take us on an adventure through the southern US to remind me why I thought being a storm chaser would be glamorous from June 1996 – July 1996.

Cue the lights!

1) All I care about in the opening scene is the dog

Well, I mean, talk about a movie getting real. First of all, little Toby is OUTSIDE and the family doesn’t even seem to care…? Second of all, that is my only point. LUCKILY, he makes it to the storm cellar and a major tragedy is avoided. Unless you count…

2) The dad blows away by holding the door?

Listen. I am not a meteorologist (I thought about it, and it doesn’t involve writing posts like this, so I am screwed), but I kiiiiind of feel like MAYBE Joe’s dad shouldn’t have been holding the door because seriously, guy, AS IF you are going to go up against an F5. What are you trying to prove? You are LITERALLY screaming “I CAN’T HOLD IT ANYMORE.” And you were correct, sir! Also, nobody was asking you to hold it. ZERO PEOPLE. And on top of that, maybe I am wrong, but then the door is gone and NO WAY is the rest of the family not getting sucked up along with him. Even Toby the Dog was like, “WOOF.”

3) The soundtrack is so carefree!

But let’s just move on already for once. We’ve got instrumental tunes! It’s sunny! There’s a storm, but pfffff WHO CARES. “This is going to be a long day,” says Meteorologist #1. “VIOLINS!!!” says the music in response. Tornado chasing! Beautiful and fun and carefree, I am SURE!

4) I know it’s the ’90s, but Melissa’s haircut is something I will never accept

I am not judgmental in that if your hair is not like Melissa’s, I will not judge it. But after seeing this for the first time when I was 12, I was all, “Melissa, WHAT is happening with your hair right now?” She’s a pretty lady! There is some sort of short curly mullet-like style ensuing? You’re better than this, Dr. Melissa Reeves.

Okay, on further thought, it actually looks pretty alright here. But there are scenes where I am vindicated, I PROMISE.

5) THE EXTREME!

You know what’s the most EXTREME about this movie? 1) Bill Paxton’s nickname (which is what we’ll be calling him for the rest of the movie) and 2) THE OSCAR-AWARD WINNING CAST. I mean, off the top of my head (and without using IMDB for actual names) we have:

1) Phillip Seymour-Hoffman! Arguably in his finest role to date.

2) The guy who directed Little Children. Which, if you have seen that, is like WOW. Not a comedy, I’ll tell you that much for free.

(Yeah, Little Children director. I’ve seen it. You weren’t joking.)

3) Cary Elwes! I wonder if his Princess Bride missed him during filming.

4) Helen Hunt. I mean, really. This movie is truly AS GOOD AS IT GETS. (HI-O!)

5) Other people. But I don’t care about them right now! Joe is about to deny The Extreme the papers and things are about to get REAL.

6) Let’s build our own Dorothys, guys

Because from what I understand, you take a metal barrel. And you spray paint it. And then you put some computer chips into it and a little fan and some lights and a siren, and we can read just about everything. OH, I think Steve Nicks is singing in the background! (ISN’T THIS THE BEST MOVIE YET?!)

7) How is Melissa not understanding this, though

I’m not kidding, so hands up if when you were like, 10 and/or 11 and you saw this, and you were like “DUH MELISSA YOU PUT THE COMPUTER CHIPS IN THE TORNADO AND YOU GET INFORMATION AND IT PREVENTS DISASTER.” Like, I am 100% sure that an actual baby who had just been born watched this part and said, “You obviously get it in front of the tornado by putting it in the ‘suck zone’. What are you, new?” Don’t ask me any specifics about the science, but I mean, they basically drew her a diagram.

8 ) UH OH, IT’S CARY ELWES AKA JONAS AND HE IS A NIGHT CRAWLER

DOES anyone know if Jonas REALLY is in it for the money and not the science? Would he maybe not just choose a less dangerous career path if that was the case? Maybe he would just get into, say, advertising instead. And is his gang called “The Night Crawlers”? Because that makes their black jeeps/vans/cars/hats seem so much cooler (but only on opposite day).

9) I don’t know, about this “Human Barometer” business

Do you ever think he is maybe just faking it to get attention? I would. I would do that. And if that makes me a crappy person, then, okay, fine, I’m a crappy person. Also, imagine he DRESSED UP like a human barometer?

10) “It’s the wonder of nature, baby!”

You got it, Dusty! “Barn Burner!” PLAY THE TUNES. And then The Preacher (right?) turns up that song that plays when horses are racing and then the director of Little Children and his BFF begin sing-screaming “Oklahoma!” and it’s just like, THIS. THIS is what tornado chasing is all about! Also, voice of an angel, that Preacher. Also (x 2), OH I SEE, DR. MELISSA REEVES, you are in this to represent some conflict. Also you are “edgy” because you are talking to somebody about how “she did not marry your penis.”

10) b) I think the real “wonder of nature” might actually be the fact that Dr. Melissa Reeves gives her cell phone number to patients? I feel like that is a bit of a faux pas.

11) Remember when everyone is listening into Bill and Joe’s fight?

How are they doing that? WHY are they doing that? Why does Bill’s truck have a radio? Just imagine this with APPS! And like, actual technology. And then they miss the CGI’d tornado because of their fighting. : (

12) “LOSER! MOVE ON!”

Now, not to brag, but I used to be really, really great at impersonating Dusty in the scene where he yells at Jonas and screams in the driver’s face. Unfortunately, it was usually alone when I was convincing myself that I could easily have played Joe in a Twister re-make (usually on road trips with my parents during the summer). Also, LOL at the truck getting picked up and crashing into the street. “WHOOPS! Sorry!” – The Weather

13) Discuss: Are the flying cows the highlight of this movie and maybe every other movie in the world?

I am going to say yes. I am going to say this because on this day, in 2012, I would still make a flying cow joke if the storm got bad enough. Or even if it wasn’t bad. It’s just something that’s really gripped us all and taught us something about ourselves and each other.

14) Dr. Melissa Reeves, just get off the phone already

GET OFF THE PHONE, DR. MELISSA REEVES! THIS IS NOT A THERAPY SESSION THIS IS REAL LIFE AND A STORM! Maybe just don’t answer your phone? Maybe LITERALLY turn it off. Maybe take your phone, and look at it. And then press the button that means “power”. OR put it on silent. OR don’t go…? Why did you go with them, Dr. Melissa Reeves! That would be like if one of us reading this was like, “TWISTER! Guys, I’m off. Bring on those warnings, I am ready to ROCK!” (And I am totally referring to deciding to be a windmill maker like Aunt Meg.) AND speaking of Aunt Meg…

“FOOD!” AND…

15) What up, Aunt Meg!

I mean, not to say I am easily influenced by movies, but yes, every time I watch the scene with the steak and eggs, I really, really want steak and eggs. And Aunt Meg’s long hair. And her house. And her dog. (No, just kidding. I prefer cats.) Isn’t she the coolest? And then Lisa Loeb plays and she tells Joe how wonderful she is and how she deserves the greatest man in the world (who, I would argue, is NOT The Extreme, but okay, fine).

Sidenote: what is up with Dr. Melissa Reeves not being down with the steak and egg and gravy and potatoes?! There is a lot of food I would break the law for, and that meal is exactly one of those. I would steal Dr. Melissa Reeves’ phone in exchange for EXACTLY the meal they are all enjoying. I would even steal her red truck. Just pass me the rolls! (Of bread. I forgot to mention they were eating those too.)

16) BILLY THE EXTREME-INATOR

And he “chucks” the bottle of Jack Daniels into the Twister and it never. hits. the. ground.

17) Maybe they should’ve talked about the F5 so Dr. Melissa Reeves could understand what’s going on in the world

Here is how the conversation goes:

Dr. Melissa Reeves: “Has anybody ever seen an F5?”

Everybody else: [SILENCE] “Only one of us.”

Like, okay, I get it. It’s a sore spot. Joe’s dad got sucked up into the tornado because he was holding the door and neglecting his dog, and nobody wants to talk about it. But maybe The Extreme should’ve already told her? Or taken her aside and said, “Hey, yeah, it was actually this very tragic thing that happened . . .” and she is an adult and would’ve understood. But NOPE. No soup for you, Dr. Melissa Reeves. And no steak, either. And no friendship with Joe.

18) Is the thing where the tornado won’t take the censors a real thing or was that just made up for the F5 thing?

Contrary to popular belief, I am not a tornado expert. I know craziness goes down, but I don’t know the ins and outs of physics or weather or gravity or science, so would they REALLY need to anchor the pack or wouldn’t the censors just get sucked up with no issues? Part of me thinks they probably would. At least ONE would. ONE! But no, we wouldn’t have them running through the field without the proper amount of da-rama, as far as I’m concerned. (And I am NOT complaining because WHATTA CHASE.)

19) The song ‘Bad Day’ was about Dr. Melissa Reeves’ life, clearly

Because imagine your fiancee took you to meet his ex-wife. And then she wouldn’t sign the divorce papers. And then they make you go with them on a tornado chase. And then another one. And let’s not forget you almost died during the first. But no. Too bad. You’re going to the ex-wife’s aunt’s house. And yes, you eat a delicious meal, but you still feel alienated and you have to hang out with Dusty, who you are pretty sure is in love with you and everyone and may be a “hippie” with his “long hair”. And then you overhear him tell her that he’s still in love with her, basically. No wonder you turn off the tornado warning at the drive-in. Oh, and then you almost die again and are left at some random movie theatre and your fiancee has STOLEN YOUR TRUCK.

Dr. Melissa Reeves, IT’S OKAY. We can be pals and hang out and talk about how terrible your ex-fiancee is.

20) The Shining

I am just reminding everyone that this movie is in this movie. And that when I rented this movie with my Dad, he thought somebody had taped (yes “taped” because it was 1996 and we were watching a VIDEO) over it and to say he was rattled and/or annoyed would be the day’s greatest understatement. But enough about that! And more about The Shining. And also how when Billy The Extreme looks at the TV going static-y because it means there’s a tornado, that’s what convinced me for YEARS that a static-y television meant a tornado was coming. (Read: I am still convinced, kind of.)

21) I don’t think people would’ve stayed at the drive-in watching a movie when there were obviously tornado warnings ALL DAY LONG

Let’s just talk about how most of us hear some thunder, and we think, “YIKES, let’s check the weather reports.” OR if there are warnings on TV, we think, “Hm. Maybe let’s not go to the drive-in.” But not these people, who reside in Kansas! Who live in TORNADO ALLEY. I am willing to bet that anybody from Kansas who is reading this usually checks weather reports when meteorologists are reporting constantly that there is a deadly outbreak of tornadoes ensuing. And then they do not go to the drive-in. ALTHOUGH I heard that a bunch of people were in a movie theatre watching Twister and they came out to realize a tornado had happened when they were inside. Not related, but still. (Enter: second debilitating storm fear, next to static-y televisions.)

22) UGH THE AUNT MEG/DOG/HOUSE PART : (

Again, I have said it once, I have said it one thousand times: THE DOG. Oh my goodness, THE DOG SAVE THE DOG THE DOG IS BARKING SAVE HIM SAVE THE DOG. SAVE. THE. DOG. Thank GOD they do, because I need to be serious: again, that is truly the only thing I care about in this scene. WE KNOW Aunt Meg will be fine. We know that. But the dog? ALL BETS ARE OFF. (Until they are on and the dog is saved.) But let’s look at a photo of Aunt Meg getting a kiss from Cameron of Ferris Bueller to feel better about everything just in case.

23) Another bad day for the books: Joe aka Helen Hunt

People just DO NOT win in this movie! So you’re Joe. And you’re just having a day at work, and then your ex-husband shows up and he brings his fiancee. And then he tags along with you all day. And then he confesses his undying love to you after you’ve literally had an emotional breakdown in the middle of the street. But not before he goes to your aunt’s house and tells stories of your lives on the road. Then you almost die. And then okay, fine, he stays with you but you know he treated his ex pretty badly. And on top of THAT, your aunt almost dies, and you have to save her and her DOG (!!!) and then you have to outrun an F5 tornado. It’s okay, Helen Hunt.

24) I really do love that this is basically a Dodge commercial

As said best by my friend in grade ten science class when we had to watch this movie. In class. For science.

25) But let’s be serious: the best part is obviously everything that happens with the F5

And it’s not like I’m about to limit this to a paragraph. Unlike past installments, we are about to take this to new levels of point form-ness. Here is why Twister might be the greatest movie ever made, using only parts with the F5 tornado (next to Volcano but that’s a movie for another day):

a) Clearly they would not have survived outrunning it BUT THEY DO and that makes this MAGICAL.

b) They get hit by a propane trunk and once again, LIVE TO TELL THE TALE.

c) They drive through a house.

d) They break into a LITERAL house of knives.

e) The tornado sounds like it’s growling.

f) They use FABRIC BELTS to tie themselves to a pole, and hang out in the centre of the tornado where there is lightning and sometimes fire and insane levels of low pressure and they only look dirty afterwards. Exhibit A:

g) They make Dorothy fly!

h) “DEBRIS!”

i) They kiss still tied to the pipes and I bet the water and the sunlight creates a rainbow because, like I just said, this and they are magical.

j) I totally just saw the guy who played the obnoxious comic in Mad Men as one of Jonas’ pals.

k) The horses survive.

And may the movie’s Van Halen theme song play for you when the winds beckon.

comments

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  1. I am from Kansas, and you’re right. We do frequently check weather reports. But it’s so that we can stand a chance of finally seeing a tornado for ourselves. Instead of seeking shelter in the basement, we’ll climb onto our roofs, just to catch a glimpse of one, if ever possible. I still have never seen one, but one day … one day I will.

    Thank you for writing this. I absolutely love Twister. When I was little, my mom and I would watch it together at the start of every summer just to kick off the beginning of the season.

  2. you are soooo right about the flying cows! i drive from MN to CO a few times a year and even on a sunny blue day traversing nebraska there is inevitably a flying cow reference, “the weather is perfect! no flying cows today!” if it is raining then, “watch out for flying cows…” which is a little bit serious.

  3. The entire script of this movie should be posted in IMDB’s Memorable Quotes section. Just sayin….

  4. “its like Bob’s road or something!”

  5. I LOVED this movie, I remember it was the only PG-13 movie my sister and I could watch before we turned 13 lol. We watched it all the time. Also, Aunt Meg is totes Sookie’s grandma on True Blood!

  6. I’d like to take this opportunity to say that when this movie came out my friends and I made up a game called Tornado Chasers that we’d play at recess. We didn’t play House or Tag or anything normal, we opted for natural disasters.

  7. I love this film so much! I remember watching it on tv as a kid and it would always be sponsered by budweiser and me being a kid not kowing it was beer would always think “I want to try that” lol

  8. Wonderful article! I too shared the tornado-chasing dream from June 1996-July 1996. This was, and still is, one of my favorite movies. You are spot on at every point! I too always wondered about those dumb teenagers at the drive-in – why would their parents let them go to a drive-in movie when there were warnings all day!

  9. I love this movie! My sister addicted to twister she had to watch it everyday when we were young……..Oh ! It’s long time ago!

  10. HA! I remember having a nervous breakdown in the movie theater when Joe’s dad got sucked up by the tornado – which led to me screaming to go home. It’s my parents favorite story of me..awesome.

  11. Twister rocked my world. And YES, Cameron from Ferris Bueller!
    xoxo

  12. I think I watched this during at least a half dozen slumber parties as a kid.