Movie review by
M. Faust, Common Sense Media
Twister Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
'90s disaster movie has violence, some cursing.
  • PG-13
  • 1997
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 45 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No real positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Chasing tornadoes for the purposes of scientific research shown to be a dangerous yet exhilarating adventure that attracts a certain type of devil-may-care personality. 


A girl watches as a tornado carries her father away. There are many very intense encounters with tornadoes. Houses, semi-trucks, trucks, and cows are shown airborne by the force of tornadoes. A man is impaled and killed by a piece of metal that shoots through his truck windshield due to a tornado; the truck flips and explodes, killing the passenger. 


One character is a "reproductive therapist" whose academic views on human sexuality provide comic relief.


Regular profanity, including one use of "f--k." "S--t," "bulls--t," "hell," "Christ," "goddamn." One of the tornado chasers explains to a woman unfamiliar with tornadoes about the "suck zone," and says this a few times with a great deal of insinuation. A doctor takes a cell phone call, and exclaims without context, "She didn't marry your penis!" which prompts her fiancé to inform his ex-girlfriend that the doctor is a "reproductive therapist." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of a character being drunk and naked. Father appears to be drinking alcohol. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Twister is a 1996 movie about the dangers and exhilaration of pursuing tornadoes on the Oklahoma plains and the types of personalities attracted to the endeavor.  Cows, semi-trucks, trucks, and houses are shown to whirl around and crash violently to the ground in the action sequences; while younger audiences will note that these special effects are superior to the CGI sharks from the Sharknado franchise, the spectacle of these large bovines and objects spinning airborne might not impress them as much as the audiences who saw this when it was first released. A man is shown trying to keep a storm cellar shut before getting violently blown away by a tornado in front of his wife and young daughter. A man is impaled by a piece of metal that crashes through his windshield, causing his truck to flip and explode, killing the other passenger. There's occasional profanity, including one use of "f--k." A small town is shown devastated after a tornado struck. Some gratuitous innuendo: A tornado chaser talks about the "suck zone" in a way that implies he's not just talking about tornadoes; a woman later revealed to be a reproductive therapist answers her cell phone and exclaims, "She didn't marry your penis!" 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byheatherg4 August 20, 2015

I First Saw This Movie When I Was 8

I saw this movie for the first time when I was 8 years old. It was the first pg-13 movie my dad let me watch with him. I remember enjoying the tornado chasing s... Continue reading
Parent of a 12, 15, 16, and 18+-year-old Written byConcernedmomof4 October 31, 2012

Ruined movie with terrible dialoge.

This movie is not too scary for children but the language is terrible. The "g** d**n" reference used multiple times is inappropriate for children. T... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAbe1998 February 13, 2012

Very good, but some suggestive material

It was very good, but there was a part where a window got busted, and when the camera turned back to it, it wasn't busted like it was before. My mpaa ratin... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTheBombFunn June 13, 2013

Very good movie,buy the vhs or dvd if you find it

The movie is great. The acting is superior, the plot is well done. But it all depends on how easily scared you get. There's a lot of torture and violence o... Continue reading

What's the story?

When conditions create a perfect storm for multiple tornadoes in TWISTER, storm chaser Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) finds herself re-teaming with her ex-husband, Bill (Bill Paxton), to collect valuable data using their high-tech invention called DOROTHY. Meanwhile, corporation-funded Dr. Miller (Carey Elwes), armed with a similar device, tries to get the vital statistics before Jo and Bill do.

Is it any good?

Twister's raison d'etre is showing off elaborate special effects that create the experience of being near and even in a tornado. A tornado isn't an easy phenomenon to build a plot around -- they can't be predicted more than three minutes in advance, and they don't last very long. So it's partly forgivable that the filmmakers haven't come up with much of a story. The relationship woes and scientific rivalries only serve as filler between the scenes featuring huge objects hurtling through the air.

The opening scene, about Jo's first experience with a twister, is both exciting and scary. After that, the filmmakers satisfy themselves with thrilling viewers rather than frightening them. They also drop so many references to The Wizard of Oz that families can make a game of counting them. It's a bit of a disappointment that scientist-turned-scriptwriter Michael Crichton didn't challenge the audience a bit more here. Still, despite being clichéd, the characters are likable. In particular, Helen Hunt is as inspirational to young women interested in science as Jodie Foster was in Contact.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of disaster films, and what makes a good one.

  • How does the movie use contrasts between the two tornado chasing groups, and between Melissa and Jo, to reveal character? 

  • The opening scene is a flashback showing a pivotal moment in Jo's life. Why do you think that scene is in the movie? What would be lost if it wasn't there? 

  • Has the movie aged well? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

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