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Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

PG | | Comedy, Romance | 9 March 1990 (USA)
Trailer
1:54 | Trailer
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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4,673 ( 587)
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Hanks ... Joe
Meg Ryan ... DeDe / Angelica / Patricia
Lloyd Bridges ... Graynamore
Robert Stack ... Dr. Ellison
Abe Vigoda ... Chief of the Waponis
Dan Hedaya ... Mr. Waturi
Barry McGovern Barry McGovern ... Luggage Salesman
Amanda Plummer ... Dagmar
Ossie Davis ... Marshall
Jayne Haynes Jayne Haynes ... Nurse
David Burton David Burton ... Mike
Jon Conrad Pochron Jon Conrad Pochron ... Tony (as Jon Pochran)
Jim Hudson ... Fred - Guard
Antoni Gatti Antoni Gatti ... Italian Tailor
Darrell Zwerling ... Underwear Salesman
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There are at least four references to losing one's soul:
  • in the song "Sixteen Tons" played at the start of the movie, the lyric "I sold my soul to the company store"
  • Joe responds to DeDe's question in the factory while inspecting his damaged shoe
  • Patricia's reference to being soul sick the first night on the yacht
  • several lines involving the Waponi's Tobi Chief such as when Joe states that he hopes the chief will not lose his Tobi (soul).
See more »

Goofs

When Joe catches the hammerhead shark it is clearly a stuffed mock up. One can see the folds in the fabric. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Ellison: And what did you do in the fire department?
Joe Banks: Well... I put out fires.
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Alternate Versions

The movie was re-shot to change the ending, which was unpopular with test audiences. In the original ending, after Joe and Patricia are expelled by the volcano, they are rescued by the Tweedle Dum (the sister of the yacht that was sunk, the Tweedle Dee.) On board are the rescued crew of the Dee, as well as Graynamore and "Dr. Ellison", who turns out to be Graynamore's tax accountant (and hatchet man) by the name of Kenneth Hindmick. Graynamore reveals he had Hindmick pose as a doctor to make Joe think he had a fatal disease. Hindmick pulls a gun on Joe to protect Graynamore from Joe's anger, and to allow Graynamore to keep the yacht. Joe, having stared into the mouth of a volcano, calmly swipes the gun from Hindmick, then announces to Graynamore that he and Patricia had gotten married by the Chief. They both banish Graynamore and Hindmick to the boat's dinghy in the middle of the ocean. Graynamore tells Hindmick that he likes Joe, and admits being banished in a small dinghy in the middle of the ocean is his price for being too greedy, and tells Hindmick to help him row home. Back at the Tweedle Dum, Joe and Patricia see the four steamer trunks popping to the surface, with the Chief riding the last one, brandishing his Tobi, happily telling them he didn't lose his soul after all. Joe replies he didn't lose his either. The only remnant from the original ending is that in the end credits, you see an artist's rendition of the Tweedle Dum sailing off into the distance. See more »


Soundtracks

Good Lovin
Written by Arthur Resnick and Rudy Clark
Performed by The Rascals (as The Young Rascals)
Courtesy of Atlantic Records
By arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

User Reviews

Combines a life-affirming message with "in-jokes" for movie lovers.
8 March 1999 | by Caryn-2See all my reviews

This is my favorite film for a number of reasons. One reason is that it includes _homages_ to many classic films. For instance, the very first shot of the factory immediately brings to mind Chaplin's _Modern Times_ and Lang's _Metropolis_. The first minutes of the film, until Joe is called into the doctor's office, are filmed almost in black and white. The tones are all grey, black, or taupe, with some glaring whites. Then the door to the doctor's office opens to show warm leather, paneling, and firelight, and it's a sudden reminder of _The Wizard of Oz_, when Dorothy opens the door into Oz and the movie changes from black and white to color.

I also look for the "crooked path," which shows up four times at different parts of the movie. When Joe says, "We've come a long way on a crooked path," we know exactly what he's referring to!

I could go on with these details for pages, but I don't want to leave out the main reason this is my favorite film. It is one of the most life-affirming movies I have ever seen. When I had received devastatingly bad news about my health, this is the movie I watched, and it helped get me over the hump and start integrating the condition into my life.

Movies like this are one of the reasons for having movies at all, and I will continue watching it, as I return again and again to favorite books, for the rest of my life.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 March 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Joe Versus the Volcano See more »

Filming Locations:

Hawaii, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,252,232, 11 March 1990

Gross USA:

$39,404,261

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$39,404,261
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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