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Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  9 March 1990 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 26,354 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?


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 »


Angelica: I am completely untrustworthy... I'm a flibbertigibbet.
See more »


Referenced in Greek: Tailgate Expectations (2009) See more »


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

Without a doubt one of the greatest movies ever made.
30 May 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I am a very tough critic, and most movies are nothing but incredible disappointments for me. However, Joe vs. the Volcano is a movie that I can honestly say is a cinematic masterpiece. When people call this a romantic comedy, they are committing a great injustice to this film. That is not to say that there is not romantic comedy in the story, but to say that it is the point of the film is monumentally short sighted. The real story in Joe vs. the Volcano is about coming to terms with yourself, finding that spark that we spend our lives searching for. It is about discovering our humanity and what that entails. Normally, this would end up being pretentious and sophomoric crap, but because the heavy subject matter is taken so lightly, we are treated to a modern fairy tale that runs the gamut in terms of emotional impact. The performances are stellar and to this day I have never enjoyed Tom Hanks more, the direction pays tribute to classic films with cinephillic glee, and the soundtrack is simply superb. 10 out of 10!

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