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Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  9 March 1990 (USA)
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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) »


An Average Joe. An Adventurous Comedy. 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 first night on the ship, when they are having dinner, we see a crescent moon with horns pointing downward. The crescent moon is actually a spherical object that is illuminated by the light of the sun. Therefore, the "horns" of the crescent always point away from the sun. In the northern hemisphere of the Earth, when the evening sun is below the horizon in the west, the horns of the crescent moon point upward and to the left. And several weeks later, when the morning sun is below the horizon in the east, the horns point upward and to the right. Downward horns would imply that the sun is above the horizon, therefore it would not be night. See more »


Joe Banks: And Frank, the coffee. It stinks. It tastes like arsenic. These lights give me a headache; if they don't give you a headache, you must be dead, so let's arrange the funeral!
See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: The Best of Tom Hanks (2004) See more »


I Cover the Waterfront
Written by Edward Heyman & Johnny Green
Performed by The Ink Spots
used during Joe's derlilium on the raft
See more »

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User Reviews

One of my all time favorites
11 January 2005 | by (VA) – See all my reviews

I am one of the few who saw this on the big screen TWICE when it opened. This is the movie I would take to the desert island, which miraculously has electricity a big screen and a DVD player. This is one of those rare films where every single character, no matter how minor, has a major impact on the hero and the plot. This film is also rare because the Lion's share of the funny and insightful dialogue belongs to the minor characters and not the protagonists. You have to love a movie where a luggage salesman is a major plot milestone. Ossie Davis is excellent as the wise Limo driver, Lloyd Bridges is hilarious, Tom Hanks is of course everyman, and Meg Ryan, in one of her funniest roles, is actually "every woman". "You know, the first time I saw you I thought that I had seen you before." A witty hero is commonplace and witty cast is truly memorable.

The movie is probably too allegorical for most tastes, but this is a great tale about a character afraid of life, afraid of that next step, who finds his courage and puts his foot forward again.

All in all this is one of the best kinds of movies, Funny and Hopeful.

75 of 80 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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