I know you’re thinking that this is my asshole way of mocking everyone who lost their houses in the recent tornadoes, and you’d be wrong. Granted, I was inspired to watch it because of shitty weather the other day, which somewhat coincided with all the storms in the Midwest, but that’s different. The reason that I did watch this movie is because of how FUCKING AWESOME IT IS. I don’t think I realized until two years ago, when I bought it on DVD for $5, just how entertaining it is. I remember seeing trailers for it and being super excited for it, and when I saw it in theaters, it was just a perfect mindless summer blockbuster. So let’s talk about it!
As shitty as this movie is, the special effects were actually pretty awesome.
We start off immediately with shitty weather, and we see a father, mother, and little girl seeking refuge from a terrible storm in a storm shelter, only to see the father get sucked up into oblivion for trying to protect his family. Once the door blows away, however, we see the mother and daughter standing there like it’s not even that big of a deal. Moral of the story? The father could have, ya know, not get sucked up into the sky, and everyone would have been fine. We then cut to “present day” and we see Bill Paxton driving with Jami Gertz to get divorce papers signed by Helen Hunt. While tracking down Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, whose character’s name is Bill, probably so Bill Paxton didn’t get confused, we also meet the rag-tag group of storm chasers that used to be the old team. This team is comprised of people like Alan Ruck, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and even Jeremy Davies, aka Daniel Faraday from Lost. Why wouldn’t you want to spend some time with these guys?! When Helen Hunt, whose character’s name is Jo, mentions they finally built a machine that Bill designed, he decides to stick around to see its successful launch.
“JO! WE’VE GOT JUMPERS AND SISTERS AND SIDEWINDERS! WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE GONNA DO?!”
In case you thought it was easy to just launch some big tornado machine into a tornado, you’d be wrong…DEAD WRONG. Not only does the team have to find the tornadoes, but they also have to compete with another team of storm chasers, led by former teammate Cary Elwes. Think of that other group as one of the bad guys hockey teams from The Mighty Ducks movies. I guess the biggest driving plot point is the awkward sexual tension between Jo and Bill, and their desire and difficulty to get their device to get sucked up into the tornadoes. Jamie Gertz decides to leave the engagement she has with Bill, Bill falls back in love with Jo, and they are eventually successful in getting a tornado to suck up this device, and then you can hear Van Halen being played over the credits.
I can’t believe you forgot that during the trailer, the guy who runs up and yells “THEY’RE COMING!” was Philip Seymour Hoffman. You idiot.
I can admit that this movie isn’t at all “good” in the traditional sense, but goddammit if it isn’t entertaining as shit. I don’t really even know where to start with how funny everything in this movie is, and how you can’t help but laugh at how serious everyone took it. After all, it was directed by Jan de Bont from Speed fame. Maybe he thought something like “What if we have fast-moving things come to the characters, rather than the characters stuck on a fast-moving thing!?” Brilliant. Have I mentioned that Bill Paxton plays a guy named Bill? And that Bill’s nickname in the movie is “The Extreme”, because of how extreme he was at chasing tornadoes? That’s so awesome.
IT’S SIDEWINDING RIGHT FOR US AGGGH BLARKNHKJ!!!!!!
You know who didn’t know anything about tornadoes before this movie? Me. You know who else? Everyone. Some of my favorite scenes were when the characters had to set up the terminology that was being used, including some sort of system involving the letter “F”. Essentially, an F1 is a wimpy tornado, and an F5 is the most powerful, with one guy calling it a “defender of God”. When Jami Gertz asks if anyone’s ever seen an F5, everyone gets quiet and looks upstairs, because that’s where Jo is and that’s what killed her Dad. NOOOOO!!!!!!! Or the scene where everyone is chasing a tornado, then it starts to move in a slightly different direction, and Bill says something along the lines of, “UH OH, WE GOT A SIDEWINDER”, and we can deduce that this is what everyone calls a tornado that moves in a slightly different direction. Or maybe when they are tracking a tornado, and then instead of one big one, it becomes two little ones, and Bill says something along the lines of, “UH OH, WE GOT SISTERS”, and we can deduce that that’s what everyone calls a tornado that turns from one big one into two little ones. What about the scene where a tornado touches down briefly, only to get sucked back up into the sky and everyone anticipates it touching down again somewhere? Yeah, they got a term for that, because Bill yells something along the lines of, “UH OH, WE GOT A JUMPER.” If you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia of an oft-forgotten action movie from the mid 90’s, go out and watch this movie immediately, because it’s hilariously bad, yet entertaining.
Wolfman Moon Scale