Joe Versus the Volcano (review requested by Jason Mumaw from Jason & Friends)

Release Date: 3/9/1990 – Rated PG

Starring: Tom Hanks (The ‘Burbs), Meg Ryan (I.Q.)

Plot Summary:  A futile job and a life filled with physical pain surrounds Joe Banks like a cloud.  After he visits a doctor about his constant feeling of woe, he is told about another cloud in his life; this one is a ‘brain cloud’.  Joe is told by the doctor that he has about 5 months left to live and should do something with the rest of his life.  He returns to work and quits his job, but not before finally asking out a co-worker that he likes (a brown-haired Meg Ryan).  They have a nice evening, but she freaks out when Joes tells her of his future.  The next morning a businessman shows up at Joe’s doorstep with a job offer for him – since he is on his way out anyway, the man wants Joe to jump into the volcano on the tiny island of Waponi Woo, so that he can have the mineral rights there.  Joe agrees, as that means he will go out a hero, just like he wants.  Joe is treated to the works before going out to L.A. where he meets another Meg Ryan (with red hair this time), and he eventually boards the boat headed out to the island.  He hits it off with the boats’ captain, Meg Ryan again, of course; this time the early 90’s cute and bubbly Ryan without her current fish lips.  After a few fun days at sea, they encounter a typhoon where the ship is destroyed and they are left floating on a raft made of luggage.  After another few days they wash-up on Waponi Woo, where that night Joe is to be sacrificed.  The blonde Meg Ryan decides she loves him and doesn’t want him to die, but Joe keeps his word and jumps in, but not before they get married in the quickest ceremony ever.  As they plummit, the volcano erupts and they are burped out into the sea as the island sinks.  The find their trusty luggage raft and sail off into the distance.

Alex’s Thoughts:  This might be my least favorite Tom Hanks movie.  It just seems to me like the parts where he was supposed to be funny were kind of forced, and he wasn’t allowed to be his normal funny self, but was told how to be funny; it just didn’t work for me.  When I look at earlier comedies like Bachelor Party or The Money Pit you can tell that someone just told him to act funny, and in this case someone told him how to act.  This film marked one of the last Hanks’ comedies, and while he went on to do great things afterward; I grew up with him as a comedic actor, and that is how I will always think of him.  The movie itself has some touching moments, but I have never really enjoyed it.

Tim’s Thoughts:I like this movie, but not really for the humor. I like how strange all of the characters are, and personally I think the 1st two Meg Ryan characters are way more interesting than the last, and my main complaint is the last half of the movie feels so rushed, with the exception of the part with the castaway prequel, that should have been shorter. Not everyone will like this, but it’s a good example of how not only colors, but also recurring themes (see the lightening bolt) can help tell a story.

Final Thoughts:  This movie might be the point when Tom Hanks movied from physical comedy to dramatic acting.  Is the world a better place now because of it? Who knows.  If you’ve never seen it before it is definiatly worth a watch.

Alex Rates This Movie 6/10

Tim Rates This Movie 8/10

“I love you, too! I’ve never been in love with anybody before, either! It’s great! I’m glad! But the timing stinks.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue