Joe Versus the Volcano

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Overview

Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Patrick Shanley's first foray into the director's chair is a quirky romantic fantasy, featuring Bo Welch's signature production design. Tom Hanks plays Joe Banks, a man who hates his job, thinks the overhead fluorescent lights are making him sick, and quakes at the presence of his boorish boss Frank Watori Dan Hedaya. He is attracted to the office secretary DeDe Meg Ryan but is afraid to speak to her. Then his life changes when he visits Dr. Ellison Robert Stack. Dr. ...
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Overview

Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Patrick Shanley's first foray into the director's chair is a quirky romantic fantasy, featuring Bo Welch's signature production design. Tom Hanks plays Joe Banks, a man who hates his job, thinks the overhead fluorescent lights are making him sick, and quakes at the presence of his boorish boss Frank Watori Dan Hedaya. He is attracted to the office secretary DeDe Meg Ryan but is afraid to speak to her. Then his life changes when he visits Dr. Ellison Robert Stack. Dr. Ellison tells Joe that he has something called "a brain cloud" that is rapidly spreading throughout his brain. He will feel great, but he'll be dead within five months. Instead of being depressed at this bleak prognosis, Joe suddenly feels free. He quits his job, asks DeDe out, and is contacted by a rich millionaire named Graynamore Lloyd Bridges. Graynamore owns an island named Waponi Woo, whose natives need to be placated. The natives require a sacrifice to their island volcano, the Big Woo, so that the island won't sink beneath the Pacific. Graynamore offers unlimited wealth to Tom in exchange for Tom's becoming the object of human sacrifice. Joe has nothing to lose, so he accepts the offer. As he heads out to the island, Joe meets Graynamore's daughters -- Angelica, a Los Angeles socialite, and Patricia, Angelica's blonde half-sister both roles played by Ryan. Joe arrives at the island, and as he stands at the lips of the Big Woo he has to decide whether he really wants to leap into the maw of the fiery volcano.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
The directorial debut of Oscar-winning screenwriter John Patrick Shanley, this quirky comedy is one of the few flops under the belt of star Tom Hanks, its off-kilter brand of loopy charm flying over the heads of most audiences. As a nebbish who thinks he's dying of a bizarre disease, Hanks diverges from his usual role of an intelligent, supremely competent professional, perhaps alienating his fan base, but delivering a winning, funny performance that ranks with his work as a wide-eyed innocent in Big (1988). In her first pairing with frequent co-star Hanks, female lead Meg Ryan loses herself in a trio of roles that rank among her best work and presage the most undeservedly ignored performance of her career in Courage Under Fire (1996). It's the goofball characters and sneaky symbolism of the screenplay by Shanley that make this wacko project the comic delight that it is, however. Whether it's Abe Vigoda as an Orange Crush-worshipping tribal chief, Lloyd Bridges as an eccentric millionaire, or the recurring visual references to fate (keep an eye peeled for hidden zig-zags and lightning bolts), the film is a major cinematic treat. Although trounced by many critics, Joe Versus the Volcano is a woefully underrated film, one of the decade's lost classics and a film that star Hanks has often singled out as the lone, unfairly tarnished gem on his resumé.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/6/1999
  • UPC: 085391606031
  • Original Release: 1990
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tom Hanks Joe Banks
Meg Ryan Angelica, DeDe, Patricia
Lloyd Bridges Samuel Harvey Graynamore
Robert Stack Dr. Ellison
Dan Hedaya Mr. Frank Watori
Abe Vigoda Chief of the Waponis
Ossie Davis Marshall the Chauffeur
Barry McGovern Luggage Salesman
Amanda Plummer Dagmar
Carol Kane Hairdresser
Marion Dougherty
Jon Conrad Pochron
Jayne Haynes Nurse
Jim Hudson Fred (Guard)
Nathan Lane Ben, the Waponi Advance Man
Jim Ryan Bellman
Tony Salome Clerk (at The Rectal Probe Company)
Lala Sloatman Waitress
Jennifer Stewart Statue of Liberty
Paul Thorpe The (Waponi) God Woo
Darrell Zwerling Underwear Salesman
David Burton Mike
Technical Credits
John Patrick Shanley Director, Screenwriter
Colleen Atwood Costumes/Costume Designer
Ian Bryce Production Designer
Cheryl Carasik Set Decoration/Design
Georges Delerue Score Composer
Marion Dougherty Casting
Thomas A. Duffield Production Designer
Stephen Goldblatt Cinematographer
Richard Halsey Editor
Industrial Light & Magic Special Effects
Kathleen Kennedy Executive Producer
Frank Marshall Executive Producer
Teri Schwartz Producer
Steven Spielberg Executive Producer
Ken Wannberg Editor
Robert W. Welch III Production Designer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Totally Awsome!

    I live in the UK now where this movie got terrible reviews. Perhaps it is cultural differences or value sets, but I think this movie is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. You have to get into it and try not to take it at face value as being just another quirky comedy by Tom Hanks. The script is excellent, as well as being funny it is full of undertones and messages about how so many of us live our lives today. We spend our lives trying to get ahead in our jobs and ruled by the mighty dollar, forgetting that there is so much more. Meg Ryan does a wonderful job playing two roles at opposite ends of the spectrum. She is heartfelt and equally lovable as either character. And if you like Tom Hanks, I think you will find that he plays his best. I give this movie 9 out of 10, for being unique and funny, but delivering a serious message about humanity in such an easy going package.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One of the GREATEST undiscoverd movies of film history!

    Joe versus the Volcano is a quirky story, that often times misleads the viewer, leaving the true story of man vs. himself undiscovered. I have heard many complain that it was a strange movie, and just couldn't get into it. My recommendation is to watch it again, and pay attention! The movie is a wonderful commentary on how we, as men and women, make ruts in our lives and live in them because it is at least comfortable. Comfortability only leads to displeasure and self pitty. Joe versus the Volcano is a beautiful work of art illustrating the difficult, yet simple, journey men and women must go through to truly live. After all ''...most the whole world's asleep. ...only a few people are awake. And they live in a state of constant, total amazement''.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Don't believe the anti-hype!!

    This truly is one of my favorite comedies of all time. Great performances, an unusual story, quirky humor and some genuinely touching moments make this a top notch film. Plus, I think the use of music in the movie is extremely effective - (e.g. the scene where Joe leaves the Dr's office and sees the huge dog, while Old Man River plays). I have no idea why this movie has such a bad reputation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Two thumbs up!

    I have seen this movie around five times, and I think that in this simple story you can get a fresh look at how things can be in your life. Tom Hanks´ performance is great and you can see how he was stepping out to the Academy Awards.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Never buy cheap luggage...

    This was a good movie for a lot of reasons. One reason is that you can watch it over and over and pick out new elements each time, if you pay attention. There are also some interesting, recurring themes such as the jagged shape of the lava flow down the volcano. The sidewalk into the factory (the fact that it isn't straight is a whole subject unto itself), on the desk lamp in Joe's office, the lightning bolt that sinks the ship, just to name a few. The casting was extremely well done. Hanks and Ryan are incredible. The supporting players are first class. Besides, the luggage salesman is worth the price of the movie alone. If you didn't ''get'' this movie, then you missed out. Try watching it again or move on to Bill Murray in ''The Razor's Edge''.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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