Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  9 March 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 26,542 users  
Reviews: 193 user | 34 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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Cast overview, first billed only:
DeDe / Angelica / Patricia
Dr. Ellison
Chief of the Waponis
Mr. Waturi
Barry McGovern ...
Luggage Salesman
Jayne Haynes ...
David Burton ...
Jon Conrad Pochron ...
Tony (as Jon Pochran)
Fred - Guard
Antoni Gatti ...
Italian Tailor
Darrell Zwerling ...
Underwear Salesman


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

island | volcano | love | tropical | yacht | See All (28) »


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


Comedy | Romance


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

9 March 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Joe contra el volcán  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)


$39,404,261 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Inspired by the 1952 Goofy short Hello Aloha (1952). See more »


The Medical League Building - Long Island City Branch has a street address of 941. Addresses in Long Island City, Queens are hyphenated, such as 25-81. See more »


Angelica: I have no response to that.
See more »


Referenced in NCIS: Knockout (2009) See more »


Sixteen Tons
Written by Merle Travis
Performed by Eric Burdon
used in the introduction where Joe goes to work
See more »

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User Reviews

An Under-appreciated Delight
22 June 1999 | by (Seattle, WA) – See all my reviews

For many people, the fact that I love this movie will throw the integrity of everything else I write about into doubt. "Joe" has unfairly become an industry joke, shorthand for the depths to which Tom Hanks sank before redeeming himself with Academy Awards. This fate is horribly undeserved. "Joe" is an imaginative and gloriously life-affirming movie, a hysterically funny fantasy nearly on a par with the best of Terry Gilliam with a "carpe diem" moral that comes across with a lot more honesty and a lot less preachiness than some other movies I could mention. Every Tom Hanks performance is virtually flawless and this one ranks near the top. Meg Ryan's performances are warm and hilarious. Usually it's men who play more than one role in a movie and then it's more often for ego's sake than art's. Ryan pulls off her multiple characters with remarkable grace. More amazingly, it makes perfect sense for her to play three characters. For the sake of argument, I am willing to concede that there are those who just aren't going to enjoy this movie's unique mixture of whimsy and genuine emotion. But for me, it's a classic, easily one of my favorite movies of the decade.

67 of 69 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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