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
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 »
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 »
I have less than six months to live. The Waponis believe they need a human sacrifice or their island is going to sink into the ocean. They have this mineral your father wants so he hired me to leap into their volcano.
You're not going to make me say that again, are you?
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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 »
Intelligent and inventively funny film, but also just plain weird
For lack of better words, "Joe Versus the Volcano" is a romantic comedy. But then again, it's not even close to a romantic comedy. It has none of the formulaic standard elements that all romantic comedies seem to have. It has none of the formulaic standard elements of fantasy films. It also doesn't seem to have much of the slow, dry aspects of character dramas. And yet, "Joe Versus the Volcano" is a comedic film about Joe who finds romance, mostly set in a fantasy world.
The highlight of the film is the comedy. It is laugh-out-loud funny in a very intelligent and inventive way. Tom Hanks as Joe is great at subtle comedy and Meg Ryan is great at over-the-top comedy. I enjoyed Hanks' character, an average Joe suffering from hypochondria, and I enjoyed Ryan's characters, weird at times, but ultimately cute and sweet.
Written and directed by the genius playwright John Patrick Shanley, this is his first feature film. It has his trademark dialogue with quick wit, but it's also just plain weird. It's a very simple story which he tells too slowly at times, and the ending gets way too cheesy. But then again, that's probably on purpose, which makes it funny.
If you're looking for a Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie which is not a romantic comedy, then "Joe Versus the Volcano" is your choice.
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