Movies That Molded a Geek: Twister

twisterOkay, pipe down, I can hear the squawking from here.  “Twister?” you say.  “That god-awful movie that spawned that lame ride at Universal and everyone always quotes the stupid cow line?” Yes, that movie.  I LOVE THIS MOVIE.  Also, note that this is not a series about the Best and Smartest Geek Movies Ever, but rather the movies that molded this particular geek.  Bear with me.

There’s more than one weather-watcher in my family.  Tornadoes were kind of a family thing, though there aren’t any actual storm-chasers.  I, myself, come from the lightning capital of the country, the land of Really Bad Weather.  Thunder is comforting to me.  So are bad action movies.  So guess what was right up my alley  (pun possibly intended)!

If you haven’t seen Twister, the plot is fairly simple.  A team of scientists/storm chasers have a contraption filled with probes.  The goal is to get the contraption in the path of a tornado, so that when it is sucked up, it’ll open and radio back information about wind speeds, etc.  The overarching hope is that with the information the team gleans, they’ll be able to increase the warning time in future storms, and hopefully save lives.

The cast is loaded with stars, both past and future: Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, Jami Gertz (featuring a particularly comical accent), Cary Elwes (even worse accent, oh my God), and my personal favorite, a Mr. Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  Oh, and written by Michael Crichton, so it’s got just enough science to make it seem plausible if you don’t look too hard (I’ve heard Joss Whedon was involved in the script at some point, too).

Twister came out when I was twelve years old, and I instantly loved it.  Saw it at least a few times in the regular movie theater, once in the dollar theater.  To this day I remember a scene that does not exist in the DVD, and it will forever be a mystery to me (a short clip of one of the junior members of the team freaking out and bowing out of the next chase).  I loved the soundtrack (not the Goo-Goo Dolls song, the Van Halen one).

Now, right away my family discussed the anachronisms and off science (“Talking about an F5 in 1969? We didn’t have the Fujita scale back then!”), but it didn’t really matter.  What mattered was what the film got right, and that was, let’s face it, the geeks.  Who didn’t want to be a part of that team, tearing down country roads in vans singing show tunes and probably debating Star Trek?

Even better was the fact that there were multiple kinds of geeks.  Other geek teams of the time, like the Lone Gunmen, could sort of be taken as one unit, but these people seemed far more multi-dimensional to me.  These were the kind of people I would want to hang out with if I were an adult (and, gee, these are the kinds of people I hang out with as adults).  I didn’t want to be Helen Hunt driving a truck into a tornado; I wanted to be Wendle Josepher a couple cars back.

Now, yes, the movie was silly; to say you’ll need to suspend disbelief is putting it mildly.  But it’s fun, and I love watching it.  Oh, and gorgeous.  The scenery, the storm clouds, so perfect, and Mark Mancina’s score compliments them nicely.

Also, when you really know the movie, you’ll find you can work Twister quotes into most situations.  Hungry?  “Fooood!” Someone bring up an embarrassing incident from your youth?  “You see, there was once a bad (insert name), an evil (insert name), and I killed him (her).” Lost in the middle of nowhere? “It’s like Bob’s Road.” I won’t even go into the many hilarious instances where “We’ve got debris!” might fit.

So, if these summer movies aren’t doing it for you and you’re looking for something fun, give Twister a try.  Or a rewatch!  Trust me, Rabbit is good, Rabbit is wise.

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