Christmas Twister, also known as F6: Twister, is a 2012 action thriller that’s awfully light on action and thrills, but positively dripping with terrible acting and even worse special effects. But it does have one huge thing going for it: the (unintentionally) funniest script about bad weather ever written.
We can forgive its low-rent CG, because everything about this made-for-TV Twister suggests a tightly controlled budget. The biggest name in its cast is Casper Van Dien, looking a bit more weathered than in his Starship Troopers heyday, but still square-jawed and believably heroic. (Look closely and you’ll also spot Steven Williams, forever 21 Jump Street’s Captain Fuller, but also so great on the last season of The Leftovers.) Second-billed is Richard Burgi, whose current gig is General Hospital, but in 2012 was double-hitting on Desperate Housewives and One Tree Hill.
Anyway, the cast is mostly “That Guy from that One Thing” plus people you won’t recognize doing really crappy Southern accents. Van Dien plays Ethan, a serious/academic/scientific meteorologist who works at a college in small-town Texas. Burgi plays Logan, a Ken doll of a TV weatherman who’s planning on ditching Texas for a new job in New York City—and he’d sure like anchorwoman Addison (Victoria Pratt) to go with him. But she’s Ethan’s wife, so that’s awkward.
Into this love triangle of sorts plunges the most powerful tornado ever recorded: a mighty F6, which manifests inconveniently right before Christmas. (Oh! It’s also Ethan and Addison’s anniversary. What are the chances?) Christmas Twister is the kind of disaster movie that prioritizes the personal problems of its characters WAY above the actual disaster—which is why most of the movie is Ethan driving around Texas rounding up his family, while getting CB radio updates from the students he’s left in charge of his weather-prediction equipment back in the lab. That the entire film was apparently filmed on a clear summer day in Los Angeles—with angry clouds and the occasional wan-looking funnel cloud painted into the frame—doesn’t exactly add to the suspense.
The screenplay (clearly written by someone who definitely watched Twister several times for research) is full of laughable moments, suitable for treasuring as part of your holiday festivities, preferably with several gallons of strong drink within arm’s reach. There are multiple moments that unfurl without any set-up to justify the heightened emotions they demand, as when the boy that Ethan’s teenage daughter has a crush on is sucked up into a funnel. Noooooooo, character who had zero lines and was mentioned for the first time just two minutes prior! We’ll miss you forever ... though we have way more feels for the fluffy dog—pictured at the top of this post—that’s left to stoically wander the carefully set-dressed ruins for most of the film.
Interestingly, though, amid its many clunkers, the Christmas Twister script does try to explain its monster storm as best it can, using totally accurate climate science. When Ethan’s student wonders how it’s possible for a tornado outbreak to happen in December, he blames climate change. “Thanks to years of abuse, the environment has finally reached a breaking point,” he says.
(And there is truth to this. See below.)
But murky mentions are made of a blunder Ethan made in the family’s previous home of Chicago—inaccurate forecasting that apparently led to Addison misinforming her viewing public, and an entire town being evacuated, with no storm to back it up. “He’s a crusader, Addie,” Logan says dismissively when Addison wonders if it’s better to follow Ethan’s advice to warn people—and be safe, rather than sorry. “These temperature rises are nothing to be alarmed about. They’re all part of the natural cycle! In fact, some of the hottest days every recorded were in the earliest part of the 20th century.”
Fortunately, that fiendish climate-change denier—his other vile quality is that he keeps a framed photograph of himself on his desk—makes his own forecasting blunder, deciding to report live from the local power plant and being all, “Whut? Why?” when everyone at the station is like, “Get out of there, man!”
That’s basically the face I made the entire time while watching Christmas Twister, which ends with the climactic rescue of Addison and her heavily pregnant co-worker—and a final-scene suggestion that absolutely nothing saves a troubled marriage from crumbling apart better than a big-ass tornado. Happy holidays, y’all!