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Joe Versus the Volcano
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Reviews & Ratings for
Joe Versus the Volcano More at IMDbPro »

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96 out of 112 people found the following review useful:

A misunderstood film explained

10/10
Author: C S from Suffolk, England
3 August 2004

Most people didn't "get" this film. But each of us has a different sense of humour and depth. JVTV is a subtle, witty film with morals, not like the bash 'em and blow 'em up Hollywood films of late. Meg Ryan shows her versatility as three separate, wonderfully funny characters and Tom Hanks (think of his character in The Money Pit but amusingly depressed) as Joe Banks trapped in a dead end job and is told he has a terminal illness. He is offered the chance to "live like a king, die like a man" by jumping into a volcano as part of a business deal where Joe gets to spend as much money as he likes before the big deed. Along the way Joe meets many characters who awaken him to the fact that life is worth living. This film is loaded with wonderful observations, a great score and songs, and standout performances. JVTV is one of those rare films you can easily watch again and again, and always makes me smile every time I see it.

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77 out of 82 people found the following review useful:

One of my all time favorites

8/10
Author: 5860backup from VA
11 January 2005

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.

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70 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

An Under-appreciated Delight

Author: Adam Jahnke from Seattle, WA
22 June 1999

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.

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82 out of 98 people found the following review useful:

One of the most overlooked movies ever

10/10
Author: Chris Dickerson
29 November 2004

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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46 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

Quirky is not a dirty word...

9/10
Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
18 March 2001

...yet this eccentric comedy never quite found its niche with the public, and I don't know why. It's beautifully produced and written, wonderfully acted and endlessly weird (how many films can you say that about?). When sad-sack Tom Hanks decides to give up his life for a few days of luxury, we understand because his existence may be a lot like ours: glum office job with lime walls, dirty floors, unpleasant co-workers, bad coffee and fluorescent lights on the fritz. When he's out to sea, floating on his luggage, he sees shapes in the sky at night that light up his face; he may be in a precarious position, stranded on the ocean, but he's the happiest and most alive he's ever been. What a wonderful moment in a movie chock-full of smart, sneaky laugh lines and throwaway bits of business that stay with one, growing beloved in the memory. Screenwriter John Patrick Shanley, also making his directorial debut, has a fine sense of pacing and a keen eye for the absurd beauty in our midst. Only in the final reel does the construction of the plot stumble, however this is due to film studio interference. ***1/2 from ****

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46 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

A sweet, wonderful romantic movie!

10/10
Author: jcosper from New Albany, IN
9 December 1998

It starts dark and dismal. It has to. The lower it starts, the higher the climax at the end when Joe is able to release his fears and live life to the fullest. A man is told he's dying of a "brain cloud" and has 6 months to live. Suddenly a stranger offers him a deal: live like a king for a month, die jumping into a volcano. With nothing to lose, he sets out for a tiny island. Along the way he discovers how wonderful life is. Not even a shipwreck can bring down his spirits. The ending is terrifically happy. The music is great. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are just as wonderful here as in Sleepless in Seattle. Abe Vigoda rocks. Watch for Nathan Lane as one of the islanders. But the ultimate scene stealer is the luggage salesman. All in all, a sweet, wonderful romantic movie.

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58 out of 79 people found the following review useful:

Without a doubt one of the greatest movies ever made.

10/10
Author: Sandman138 from United States
30 May 2004

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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39 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

My All Time Favorite

Author: drosse67 from Virginia
15 April 2001

Like many others who have commented, this movie speaks to me on many different levels. Whenever my life gets out of control, this is the movie I plug in. Joe is a character we can all identify with, and everyone has a bit of DeeDee, Anjelica and Patricia in them as well. I just wish Warner Bros. would release this on DVD (and the soundtrack, while they're at it). By far the best Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie. I just can't believe the low "grade" of this movie on IMD after reading mostly positive comments. And the few who hate it should give it another chance, and pay no attention to the silly previews that exist on some older videotapes.

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36 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Great talent - but too individual for today's film audience?

9/10
Author: markmatthew from Kentucky
14 November 2004

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

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28 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly Good, Unfortunately overlooked

Author: scipioUofR (scipiour@juno.com) from Richmond, Va
14 December 2002

Tom Hanks has made many movies, most of which are very funny, emotional, and heartwarming. This movies is different from all his other movies: it is a work of art. Every scene has its own idiosyncrasies. Ordinary characters and settings have subtle emotional undertones that tug at the heartstrings. Dan Hedaya and Sam Waterstone's performances, though humorous, have a tone that is more than the sum of its parts. Color and scenery also have a hidden beauty, such as in the scene with Joe's glowing warm in his cold, blue office, or the scene with the dog and child as he exits the doctor's office, or the scene with him all alone at his table at the hotel. I first saw the movie when I was 11 years old, even then, its beauty struck me. That beauty was well capped off by the montage during the end credits. Apparently, John Patrick Shanley, or someone, put alot of work in an otherwise ordinary movie. Imagine if Stanley Kuprick had directed "You've Got mail." I'm surprised that the movie is not better known, especially that it is a big turning point in Tom Hanks career. Admittedly, his screen presence compensates for Meg Ryan's lackluster acting at times. She was best as a brunette and redhead than acting as herself. Nevertheless, a good movie, one to own and not just rent.

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