Joe Versus the Volcano

Joe Versus the Volcano

By John Patrick Shanley

  • Genre: John Patrick Shanley
  • Release Date: 1990-03-09
  • Advisory Rating: PG
  • Runtime: 1h 42min
  • Director: John Patrick Shanley
  • Production Company: Amblin Entertainment
  • iTunes Price: USD 6.99
  • iTunes Rent Price: USD 0.99
From 268 Ratings


Laughs erupt when Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fall in love and fall in lava in Joe Versus the Volcano, a colorful, stylish laugh-quake written and directed by Moonstruck Oscar winner John Patrick Shanley. As Joe, Hanks adds to his phenomenal string of successes that includes, Splash, Big and Turner & Hooch. And Meg Ryan follows up her starmaking When Harry Met Sally... with three roles, playing each of the women in Joe's life. When we first meet Joe, he has the white-collar blues. Every day is Monday, the boss is always in a bad mood and the cumulative stresses convince Joe he has a terminal condition called a "brain cloud." So when a zany jillionaire pops up and offers him a fleeting taste of the good life, Joe leaps at the chance. All he must do in return is leap into a volcano. But funny things happen on the way from the urban isle of Manhattan to the remote tropical isle of Waponi Woo... out of the corporate frying pan.



  • A Real “Killer” B Movie (one of 237!)

    By D. Scott Apel
    This review is an excerpt from my book “Killer B’s: The 237 Best Movies On Video You’ve (Probably) Never Seen,” which is available as an ebook on iBooks. If you enjoy this review, there are 236 more like it in the book (plus a whole lot more). Check it out! JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO: It begins as all fables begin, and ends as all fables end. And it’s one strange fable. On the surface, Joe is a wacky, comic book comedy; a twisted vision of adventure, full of warped characters and funhouse imagery; a series of silly incidents and a sweet romantic fantasy. Everyone is obviously having fun (particularly Ryan, who plays three very different women). Much of the humor in the performances comes from the matter-of-fact underreactions to peak emotional events, epitomized by the deadpan Vigoda and by Joe’s eventual confession of love to Pat. And the flick is indeed “fabulous,” in the dictionary definition of “barely credible; astonishing.” Maybe this is where it lost the audience, in its extravagantly embellished, enormously exaggerated fantastic elements. (Look what happened to Gilliam’s “Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” which you will find elsewhere in this volume.) But Joe is not a fantasy, and it’s not a fable. Technically, it’s a romance, in several senses of the word—the most common of which is exhibited in the fond relationship that develops between Joe and Pat. But the film is also a “romance” like “Don Quixote”: a heroic (and satirical) tale of extraordinary events. It’s a romance novel for men—and it’s the only one. Consider the pattern: Joe is clearly suffering from a mid-life crisis. (Looking at his shoe, for instance, he says, “I’m losing my sole,” oblivious to his own perfect pun.) He’s sick all the time, but it’s ennui, a spiritual illness—the only cure for which is to do the things that will challenge his existence and inject his gray life with the joy of living. So he tells off his boss and quits his job, leaving behind his gray desk, his gray office, his gray suit. He embarks on a capital-A Adventure (offered by “Mr. Gray-no-more”). He grapples with his own Mortality. He discovers his ability to Love. He experiences an epiphany of pure, perfect Connection with the Universe, in all its awe and mystery. He wrestles with Destiny and takes control of his Fate. He faces his greatest Fears. He performs a Selfless Act of Sacrifice requiring enormous Courage. He becomes a Hero. What more could he ask from Life than to be given the chance to follow this ageless, mythic roadmap to masculine mastery? In mundane terms, he performs all the actions and endures all the experiences that make a man a Man. The film is in effect an allegorical blueprint of masculine development and mid-life fulfillment, presented in satiric symbology. And if this isn’t a template that parallels the exaggerated romantic fantasies of women’s romance novels, then what is? Joe is an Epic Adventure taken with its tongue placed firmly in its cheek. It’s a combination of High Romance, middle-age redemption, low comedy, and deep philosophy; a painless, joyous, liberating way to get the essential message that life is a precious gift. It’s a hyperbolic yarn spun by a mythic Fool which, in one brief scene—Joe’s “lost at sea” prayer—manages to transcend the merely surreal and even “magical realism” to achieve an achingly poignant epiphany of what we might call “magical surrealism.” Shanley, in his directorial debut, proves his playwright’s ear for a phrase and a poet’s soul for understanding what it means to be a man (and A Man) in the late 20th century. Bly and Keen and their ilk all explain; Shanley illustrates. The price he paid for his insights was that this gem was ignored. Don’t make that mistake.

    By twistedchic
    This is another classic,but if itunes you could please add THE BURBS from1989,i would bouy it and that is a classic. The movie even has the kid from the lost boys and dream another dream.The movie is not bad for kids,so you can't lose with this,both parents and kids would love the burbs.I'm sick of all the new stuff you have to more or less watch when your children are sleeping.The burbs has humor twists and carrie ficsher, i believe. PLEASE1111For those not familar get a clip off youtube.Ben stiller in the watch is a raunchy knock off i think.
  • Away from the things of man,,,

    By Zissou 7
    I watched this movie along time ago and little pieces of it have been on my mind ever since. Some of it is slow and a bit silly at times bur most of it is full of heart, wit and romance. Still love it!
  • Charming & Inspiring

    By JulyDawn
    If you've ever been stuck in a meaningless job that you hate, feeling like your life is going nowhere, you will LOVE this movie. On the surface it appears to be just a quirky, lightweight love story, but don't be fooled. It also deals with profound themes of learning to live a life fully awake, recognizing how big and amazing life can be, overcoming your fear of change and learning to taking risks. Yes, all that but entertaining and funny too!
  • Classic!

    By Wolverine 10
    At some point in your life you must be willing to jump into the volcano...see you on the other side.
  • It's not You've Got Mail

    By Kit Myers
    It's not You've Got Mail - but it's quirky and fun. Sure to take you...away from the things of man.
  • Joe vs the Volcano

    By Debbagain
    I love this movie! It's totally quirky and so funny. If you haven't seen it before, watch it. Don't watch it if you have no sense of humor or can't look outside of the box.
  • One of my all-time favorites

    By lbjeffries
    I saw this three times in the theater when it came out - I never understood why critics didn't like this film. I've seen it many, many times since. There is an absolute charm and honesty to this movie that is lacking from so many movies. I cannot recommend this movie enough.
  • Please Get "The Burbs"

    By Bighrt1
    Love all Tom"s Movies but "The Burbs" is just that one movie I can watch over and over, especially if I stay home from work because I'm sick, I can watch that movie all day long! Please get "The Burbs" Im sure there are other folks who would love to have it on Itunes! Aswell! Help me out folk"s :-)
  • Roger Ebert gave this 3.5 out of 4 stars!

    By profsmrfld
    The message behind this movie is phenomenal. Roger Ebert said of this movie "... [that] it is new and fresh and not shy of taking chances. And the dialogue in it is actually worth listening to, because it is written with wit and romance." I love this movie and am so glad it's finally come to iTunes.