The Quarantine Stream: 'Twister' Is A Dumb, Fun Distraction

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they've been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)The Movie: TwisterWhere You Can Stream It: NetflixThe Pitch: Storm chasers and estranged husband and wife Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt reunite to chase down some big digital storms, baby!Why It's Essential Quarantine Viewing: Twister is dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb. But it's also...wonderful? Look, Jan de Bont's special effects blockbuster will never be as impressive on the small screen today as it was when it hit big screens in 1996, but that's okay. It's still fun to watch, and Paxton and Hunt are great together, as are the supporting cast they're surrounded with, including a young Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Cary Elwes as the "bad guy" who we know is bad because he drives a black van.Twister was a big deal when it opened in 1996. It was impossible to escape all the trailers selling the flick – trailers loaded with big effects, and concluding with a scene where a tire slams right into the screen (the scene is nowhere in the final film). Now, years later, there's a goofy charm to the entire thing. Sure, it's very low on plot – the script, by Michael Crichton and Anne-Marie Martin, runs on archetypes and cliches – but it's high on energy.

It's hard not to get swept up in all the energy of the characters as they chase one deadly storm to the next. And while those storms are clearly fake, the effects hold up pretty darn well, which is all the more impressive when you remember this movie came out almost 25 years ago. Yes, you may long for a smarter script, and one could've been written. The "estranged couple reunites for danger" storyline is lifted directly from James Cameron's The Abyss, and the script for that spectacle movie is solid.

But once you get beyond the longing for something sharper you'll be hooked on shots of barns exploding, cows flying, drive-in movie screens bursting, trucks driving, and more. Did this movie about storm chasers need a villain? No. Did that villain have to drive around in a black van to highlight he's the villain? No. But who cares? Sometimes you want a fancy meal, and sometimes you want heart-clogging junk food.

That's Twister. Junk food cinema made to be digested without much thought of empty calories. And if you want a smarter action movie from the same director, you can always check out Speed. But there's plenty of room out there for Twister, a film that knows exactly what it wants to do, and does it. You want high-art, go elsewhere. You want 'splosions, wind, and Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt yelling at each other, you've come to the right place.