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Twister: 5 Things That Really Don't Make Sense About The Tornado Movie

Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt in Twister

Is there anything more thrilling than watching Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt rekindling their marriage and driving through massive, computer-generated tornados in Twister? Filled with action, romance, and some of the best visual effects of the era, Jan de Bont's 1996 disaster film checks off all the boxes for a summer blockbuster of its scope and size. But there are some things that don't make sense.

Don't worry, I'm not talking about the believability of a cow being carried miles and miles by a tornado, although that was inspired by actual events. And I'm not talking about if you can really track a tornado by smelling dirt. I'm talking about the questions that many of us have had for nearly a quarter-century now. Questions like why didn't Jo's dad step a few feet backwards, do tornados really gurgle, and will Jo and Bill's second attempt at marriage really work?

Richard Lineback in Twister

How Was Jo's Dad Sucked Up But His Family Was Safe Just A Few Feet Away?

Before the movie even gets to its proper start, we have one of the most intense, yet head-scratching prologues where a young Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) is pulled from her bed and carried to her family's storm shelter beneath her family's home as a fast-approaching F-5 tornado comes rushing towards them. All makes sense so far, right? Well, the next part has always baffled me these past 24 years.

As Jo and her mother sit in the safety of the storm shelter, her father holds on frantically to the shelter's door before being sucked up with other debris into the swirling darkness of the tornado, never to be seen again. It's dramatic, I know, but what doesn't make sense is the fact that Jo, her mom, and the family dog (a tiny yorkie) are just mere feet away from the door and are barely moved by the 261 to 318 mph winds that ripped her father away just seconds earlier. Hell, even the canned goods next to Jo and her mother were untouched by the tornados selective destruction.

Cary Elwes in Twister

Bill Is Racing Jonas To Get To The Storm, But Both End Up At Hanging Out At A Gas Station?

After we're treated to several minutes of dialogue and watching Dusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman) simultaneously terrifying and enticing Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz), we're treated to the first action scene of the movie — a race to a tornado with Bill and Jo's former classmate-turned-rival, the corporate-sponsored Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes) that seems to only serve the purpose of showing off the villain's fleet of sleek, black minivans and satellite-enabled technology that doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.

We never see a tornado, don't hear any mention of the tornado, and just pick back up with Bill giving a fully-inflated tire to a mechanic to bounce around, I guess. Over the course of the next few minutes, we just hang out in the diner attached to the garage and have the time-honored tradition of having the two rivals make remarks about one another, including Jonas poking fun at Bill's weather reports. The scene finally ends with Bill and Jonas being pulled apart from one another after the former accuses the latter of stealing his idea (Dorothy) that doesn't really work anyway.

Helen Hunt, Jami Gertz, and Bill Paxton in Twister

I've Heard That Tornados Sound Like A Train, But I Never Knew They Roared And Gurgled

When I was a kid, I remember being fascinated about all things tornados. Hell, I was even obsessed with the 1996 made-for-television movie Night of the Twisters (the one with Devon Sawa). With that being said, I was gung-ho going entering the theater to see Twister. One thing I noticed then and still laugh about is the way the tornados sound in this movie. I've heard people say that tornados sound like an approaching freight train, but those funnel clouds chasing Bill and Jo around Oklahoma sound like lions at times and a draining bathtub at others.

Did Jan de Bont really have to insert an assortment of intense and animated sounds to make his tornados seem more terrifying to the viewer? I'm surprised he didn't add a set of eyes, a mouth, and some dialogue to the numerous twisters that litter this movie. Did the tornados roll over Joe Exotic's Greater Wynnewood Zoo and pick up a few tigers and lions along the way? And then there are the tornados that blow their way across a body of water during the iconic "We got cows" scene. I know they become water spouts after sucking up all that water, but they sound like a draining bathtub as they gurgle into nothing. 

But hey, they still look amazing after 24 years.

Where did they come from?

How Did Those Horses Survive An F-5 Tornado?

The disaster film builds up to the final showdown with the granddaddy of them all, the feared F-5 tornado so that Jo and Bill can finally get Dorothy (the version made of old Pepsi cans) to take flight. This sucker is massive, powerful, and as loud as ever, forcing the recently reunited couple to take shelter in a shed to prevent suffering the same fate as Jo's dad several decades earlier. With black clouds, all sorts of debris, and a chorus of sounds, the massive twister barrels over the couple who strapped themselves to some pipes with their belts. Spoiler, they survive.

As the family whose home and farm was just turned into a feral tornado's chew toy exits their storm shelter, we see a few horses running around like nothing has happened? Where did these horses come from and how did they survive the force of the monster tornado? Were they picked up from another farm and transported there, were they in the shelter with the family, or do they have some sort of intuition telling them to run a few hundred feet away and out of the tornado's reach?

Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in Twister

Are Bill And Jo Just Going To Act Like They Don't Have Serious Issues In their Relationship?

And then there's the whole issue with Bill and Jo's marriage? Obviously, it wasn't the happiest or easiest of marriages. Sure, the couple have a shared interest (more like an obsession) and are both passionate about understanding tornados, but what happens to the couple when they go home and aren't out on the road chasing storms with their buddies and all sorts of distractions?

They obviously love one another and care for one another, but they don't seem to really work on the underlying issues of their marriage throughout the course of the movie? Aside from Bill's speech that happens to be played over the radio for some reason, the two don't really open up about their feelings; instead, they just chase or get chased by storms and then kiss while their colleagues watch on and the camera flies off into the air like Jo's dad.

But those aren't the only things that make sense in Twister. There's some science that doesn't really add up, but I'm neither a meteorologist nor a climatologist, so I'm not equipped to handle such conversations. Before I leave you, however, I will point out that what's up with the way Melissa looks at Dusty throughout the entire movie? The therapist looks at the storm chaser is equal parts disdain and passion. Why couldn't we have gotten a movie where those two get together and watch as Melissa tries to analyze the young daredevil's obsession with danger and chasing storms? And don't tell me there's fan-fiction about it because I will waste too much time reading it.

Philip Sledge
Philip Sledge

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.