Artisan // 1990 // 93 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Bryan Byun (Retired) // December 19th, 2003
No, not that Twister.
I originally planned to write a single-word review of this film: "Sh*tster." But I figured our Chief Justice wouldn't look too kindly on that. Unfortunately, the lack of fecal epithets leaves me at a bit of a loss as to describe the extent of this film's mediocrity.
Let's start, then with a brief rundown of the plot. (No, Not That) Twister offers a glimpse into the unhappy lives of a deeply wacky rural Kansas family, headed by the preternaturally grizzled Harry Dean Stanton. Daughter Maureen (Suzy Amis) is a beer-swilling layabout and single mother of a precocious young daughter. Maureen's ex-boyfriend and absentee father (or is he?) of her child, Chris (The Practice's Dylan McDermott) rolls into town and seeks to worm his way back into Maureen and his daughter's lives. Meanwhile, brother Crispin Glover (deep, mournful sigh) is...there. The film takes these characters and mingles them in a series of combinations of dull, talky scenes until the titular twister forces them all into the house, where the crescendo of tedium that has been building throughout the film finally implodes into a black hole of boredom.
Okay, truth to tell, it's not that bad. With the exception of the always annoying Crispin Glover, each individual moment of Twister might, in more capable hands, contain some dramatic and/or comedic value. Unfortunately, director Michael Almereyda, whose blazing lack of talent would blossom putridly in his thoroughly inept 2000 adaptation of Hamlet, knows a good deal more about framing shots than stitching them together into a coherent narrative. Almereyda's idea of compelling drama involves characters standing around spouting "wacky" lines while taking turns chewing the scenery. It's like watching a Merchant-Ivory remake of a John Waters film.
About the only reason for anyone to watch Twister is to take in the unique charms of Crispin Glover, who is given free rein in this film to be as self-indulgently nutty as he likes. If that concept excites you, godspeed. To everyone else, this film represents 93 minutes torn from your life and carried away by a tornado of dreck. Even mildly amusing cameo appearances by the likes of Tim Robbins and William S. Burroughs can't save this mess.
Video? Audio? Special features? Please. This is an Artisan catalog release. Need I say more? Let's put it this way, the packaging lists "Full Screen Version" as a special feature. For shame, Artisan. For shame.
Somewhere, deep within Twister, is a searing portrayal of the disintegration of a family, leavened by quirky, oddball humor. But that thin undertone of genuine artistry is fatally smothered beneath a miasma of smug, callow gestures that will please only the heavily medicated...and fans of Crispin Glover, which may be redundant.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13