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Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

PG | | Comedy, Romance | 9 March 1990 (USA)
1:54 | Trailer

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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 <talford@mitre.org>

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?


The lamp that Joe brings into his office displays the future events in the movie, including the yacht, a volcano (with the same twisting road), a large full moon, and plays the film's theme song, "Marooned Without You". See more »


When Joe enters the factory turnstile (view from the back), the man next in line is not the same man behind him when Joe gets hit by the turnstile (view from the front). This might be deliberate on the part of the film makers. When he walks through the parking lot, most of the people around him are dressed as blue-collar workers (open collars and jackets). When he enters the gate, most of the people behind him are white collar workers (jacket and tie under overcoat). See more »


Joe Banks: Marshall?
Marshall: Yeah.
Joe Banks: I was wondering if you'd have dinner with me tonight.
Marshall: I can't do that; I got the wife and kids at the end of the day.
Joe Banks: Yeah...
Marshall: Listen, ain't you got nobody?
Joe Banks: No. But there are certain times in your life when I guess you're not supposed to have anybody, you know? There are certain doors you have to go through alone.
Marshall: ...You're gonna be all right.
See more »


References My Fair Lady (1964) See more »


Ol'Man River
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by Jerome Kern
Performed by Ray Charles
used following the doctor's diagnosis
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the most overlooked movies ever
29 November 2004 | by (Hurricane, W.Va.) – See all my reviews

In complete seriousness, I can say "Joe Versus The Volcano" is one of the best movies ever to come out of Hollywood. Sadly, it's also one of the most overlooked movies ever made. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan both are absolutely fantastic in this movie that really is an allegory about life. The movie has a fantastic script, is directed beautifully and stands up to the test of time. Hanks is at his comedic best as the soul-sick Joe, and Ryan is fantastic in her three roles. Why this movie didn't do better (despite a lack of promotion) is beyond me. It is one seems like one of those word-of-mouth movies that just keep getting bigger. I saw it three times in the theater, watched it numerous times on video and purchased the DVD the day it came out. But it's OK, I know a hidden gem when I see it.

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