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Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

 -  Comedy | Romance  -  9 March 1990 (USA)
5.6
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 24,614 users  
Reviews: 189 user | 33 critic

When a hypochondriac learns that he is dying, he accepts an offer to throw himself in a volcano at a tropical island, and along the way there, learns to truly live.

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Title: Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Joe
...
DeDe / Angelica / Patricia
...
...
Dr. Ellison
...
Chief of the Waponis
...
Mr. Waturi
Barry McGovern ...
Luggage Salesman
...
Dagmar
...
Marshall
Jayne Haynes ...
Nurse
David Burton ...
Mike
Jon Conrad Pochron ...
Tony (as Jon Pochran)
...
Fred - Guard
Antoni Gatti ...
Italian Tailor
Darrell Zwerling ...
Underwear Salesman
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Storyline

Joe versus the Volcano is a fable which opens with somewhat surrealistic scenes of the dehumanization of Joe Bank's job and work environment (at a company whose product rather literally screws people) with imagery that seems to have been inspired by the classic film Metropolis. Joe is diagnosed with an incurable disease, quits his dehumanizing job, and accepts an offer to briefly "live like a king, die like a man" - but to fulfill his agreement he must willingly jump into a live volcano on the island of Waponi Woo in order to appease the volcano god. En route to the island, Joe meets a series of interesting characters in NYC and LA, then boards a yacht, captained by Patricia Graynamore. During the voyage Joe and Patricia survive disaster, fall in love, and finally arrive at the island where they face their destiny. Written by <talford@mitre.org>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

island | volcano | love | tropical | yacht | See All (27) »

Taglines:

A story of love, lava and burning desire. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 March 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Joe contra el volcán  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$39,404,261 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene where Joe goes shopping (supposedly in New York City) was actually filmed on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. You can see the familiar Gucci sign. See more »

Goofs

In the morning when the daisy gets stepped on, everyone's shadows are to their right. Later that afternoon, when Joe fixes the daisy, his shadow is also to his right, and from the same camera angle. In the afternoon Joe's shadow would have been of a different angle. See more »

Quotes

Luggage Salesman: Have you thought much about luggage, Mr. Banks?
Joe Banks: No.
Luggage Salesman: It's the central preoccupation of my life.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Orange Is the New Black: Blood Donut (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

The Cowboy Song
Written by John Patrick Shanley
Performed by Tom Hanks
used while Joe is adrift on the ocean
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great talent - but too individual for today's film audience?
14 November 2004 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

The work of highly individual artists often prompts extreme

reactions in moviegoers. Based on the evidence of "Moonstruck"

and the woefully underrated "Joe Versus the Volcano," writer/director John Patrick Shanley could have developed into a

vital film figure on the level of a Frank Capra or Woody Allen, a

creator whose personal voice would have given him a distinctive

identity - potentially his artistic and commercial strength (or

undoing).

"Joe Versus the Volcano" has its occasional shortcomings, but its

sheer conceptual audacity set it apart from the film fare of its day.

Now, nearly a decade and a half after its premiere, the quality of

the dialogue alone reminds us how far our THX-ed out, Dolbyed-out, effects-obsessed movie "culture" has fallen.

The plot combines fantasy and satire in equal proportions. Joe

(Tom Hanks), a seemingly passive man who's worked at a

dreadful, abusive, dead-end job for years is told he has an

incurable disease (authoritatively diagnosed by physician Robert

Stack as a "brain cloud.") Joe quits his job and receives an offer

the next morning to go on an all-expenses paid journey to a tiny

island...that will culminate with his leap into a volcano!

Meg Ryan portrays three separate characters, and her glee in

masking her "All-American Sweetheart" screen persona is

palpable, particularly in the first segment. Even the occasional

gambits that fall slightly flat (for instance, Abe Vigoda's turn as a

leader of island natives obsessed with orange soda) cannot

seriously mar the overall brilliance of Shanley's work.

As it turned out, the box-office failure of "Volcano" didn't deter

Hanks and Ryan from reteaming for the enormously popular but

comparatively colorless "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got

Mail." (It's probably no accident that these were far safer

commercial bets than "Joe," both owing large debts to earlier

movies.)

On the other hand, John Patrick Stanley has returned to crafting

plays for live theater, apparently for good; one hopes his finely

tuned ear and immense imagination will flourish in an environment that's largely removed from the demographic

panderings of Wal-Mart Nation. His gain is our loss.

Earlier, I mentioned Frank Capra as a semi-analogue to Shanley.

Perhaps this comparison may help: If you are one of the many who

can't abide Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," you probably should

stay away from "Joe Versus the Volcano" as though you had the

plague...or even a "brain cloud."

9/10


35 of 48 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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