Joe Versus the Volcano is droll dark 1990 romantic comedy written and directed by John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck, but known more for his stage work) and starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Though not popular, it is actually my favourite Hanks/Ryan pairing and in my top movies list.
Joe Banks (Hanks) is an ex-firefighter, now an office worker where they make rectal probes. He’s a depressed, demoralized hypochondriac who loathes his job and his very existence.
After numerous doctor’s visits Joe finds out he’s terminally ill and takes a job as a sacrifice to a volcano on Waponi Woo, a tiny Pacific island.
Meg Ryan plays DeDe and Angelica and Patricia Graynamore (I believe this is the first time I heard the sentence, “I have no response to that”, but have heard and used it many times since; it says so much); all diverse, but interesting characters.
In the tradition of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker’s Airplane! some of the best parts of this movie are older actors like Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack and Abe Vigoda being hilarious.
Dan Hedaya (Benny & Joon, Addams Family, Monk, Dick, Night at The Roxbury, Cheers, Wise Guys, The Usual Suspects) is flawless as Frank Waturi, Joe’s smarmy, demanding boss (the whole “I’m not arguing that with you” conversation is mind-bending). Carol Kane’s cameo is memorable; credited as ‘Lisa LeBlanc’.
While generally shredded by critics Joe Versus The Volcano was a fresh approach to romcoms; grim yet amusing, unique in its majestic silliness.
The lessons while subtle, are profound.
Different yes, I’m not arguing that with you…I’m not arguing that with you…