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Ill Winds Blow Well: 'Twister' Touchdowns Score Excitement

In "Twister," two scientists on the verge of divorce (Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt) link up to chase and research a record-breaking series of tornadoes. (Rated PG-13)

May 16, 1996|LYNN SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It came with very little warning, picked them up and spun them around, then dropped them wide-eyed and wiped out.

Just what kids want from a disaster movie.

"I had my mouth open the whole time," said Sara Wortman, 15, of Irvine. Wortman had a dazed, post-roller-coaster-ride look as she left the big-screen, surround-sound Edwards Newport Cinema in Newport Beach.

"It was excellent. It was intense. It was great," confirmed Noah Craig, 12, of Garden Grove.

Without much buildup, the movie took some kids by surprise with its realistic special effects showing what a 300 mph whirlwind can do to big rigs, houses and cows.

Sam Bohart, 14, of Newport Beach, said, "When I saw the posters, I didn't think it was going to be that great. I thought it would be one tornado. I didn't know there would be so many. . . . It was great."

His friends agreed. "It gets your adrenaline going," said Eugene Kang, 15, of Irvine. "It makes you want to jump out of your seat and stuff. You don't know what's going to happen next. It was, like, really believable."

Hardly any kids seemed to care about the romantic subplot. Will scientists Bill and Jo get back together? What about Bill's fiancee, the wimpy therapist who thought he was speaking in metaphors when he said he chased tornadoes?

Neither did they show much interest in the rivalry subplot. Who will be the first to get his scientific research instrument into the tornado's path? Bill, the pure scientist now working as a weatherman, assisted by his ragtag team of goof-offs? Or corporate schmuck Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes) and his uptight team of cheaters?

One boy was disappointed that there wasn't more personal disaster. "I thought something worse could happen to [Bill and Jo]," said John Boyer, 15, of Irvine. "I thought they would get hurt a little bit."

(Two of the villains do get sucked up, but being villains, that might not count.)

But many found humor in the movie--particularly in Bill's friend Dusty, an irreverent eccentric who nonetheless knows his way around a high-tech, scientifically equipped van.

The movie presented refreshingly normal, rather than stereotypical, images of scientists. Girls particularly enjoyed seeing Hunt, co-star of TV's "Mad About You," as a knowledgeable, strong and outspoken scientist who is appreciated by the men around her.

For West Coast kids unfamiliar with the Midwest and its customs, not to mention its weather, the film offered enlightening tidbits such as the prevalence of storm cellars and the delight in calorie- and cholesterol-laden midday meals.

Sean Sullivan, 11, said he learned at least one thing from watching this movie: "I'm never going to Oklahoma."

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