Joe Versus the Volcano

Shanley's full-blown romantic fantasy, shot almost entirely on stylised sets, is a dreamlike allegory about heroism and personal fulfilment. Curiously, in a film so dependent on narrative and visual artifice, it is Hanks' multi-faceted performance as a clerk-turned-adventurer that binds the disparate elements together. After learning that he has a 'brain cloud' and only six months to live, Joe realises he has been too scared to live properly, and accepts a challenge from magnate Graynamore (Bridges): the inhabitants of a Polynesian island need a hero who will jump into a volcano to appease their gods; in return, Joe will get to live like a king and die like a man, while Graynamore gets the rights to valuable mineral deposits. Passing from the depressing grey-blue of Joe's office through LA's neon brashness to the abstract colours of the later scenes, this engaging fable builds from a slow bubble to an outright eruption of comedy, romance and tear-jerking sentiment. If you go with the flow of Joe's Capraesque journey of self-discovery, you may be swept along.

Release details

Duration: 102 mins

Cast and crew

Director: John Patrick Shanley
Screenwriter: John Patrick Shanley
Cast: Tom Hanks
Meg Ryan
Lloyd Bridges
Robert Stack
Abe Vigoda
Dan Hedaya
Barry McGovern
Amanda Plummer
Ossie Davis
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