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Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)


Average Rating: 5.2/10
Reviews Counted: 26
Fresh: 15
Rotten: 11

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Counted: 4
Fresh: 2
Rotten: 2


Average Rating: 2.7/5
User Ratings: 49,435



Movie Info

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 … More

PG (adult situations/language)
Science Fiction & Fantasy , Comedy
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Apr 2, 2002
Warner Home Video


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Critic Reviews for Joe Versus the Volcano

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (11) | DVD (13)

Cult classic with smoking, kissing, stereotypes.

Full Review… | September 19, 2012
Common Sense Media

An overlooked gem.

Full Review… | June 29, 2010
Three Movie Buffs

A more fascinating mess you'll never find.

October 31, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The unredeemable result of Hollywood's total capitulation to the Spielberg/Lucas aesthetic of the 80s.

March 10, 2004
F5 (Wichita, KS)

Excellent satire!

September 26, 2003

Somehow I can't hate this. Then again, I can't really like it, either.

July 16, 2003
Juicy Cerebellum

Joe's unfortunate prognosis and ensuing plight may be completely imagined, though his motivations and lessons are realistically applicable. Joe Versus the Volcano is a work meant to transcend, and it does so with poetic semblance.

Full Review… | November 26, 2002
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

An appealing film that defies simple categorisation.

Full Review… | September 5, 2002

A wild, weird, and wonderful adult fairy tale about a man who travels halfway around the world to discover why his life is still worth living.

Full Review… | August 31, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

Tom Hanks kneeling before the moon is one of the most moving moments in cinema. This is one of my favorite films.

July 26, 2002
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

Audience Reviews for Joe Versus the Volcano


Ahhh, the days of sweet youth! Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan look like high school kids in this little comedic trinket that waxes slightly philosophical. Starting out pretty good, reminiscent of Gilliam's "Brazil", it unfortunately degenerates into a misguided and wayward snicker about all those Hollywood movies dreaming about the good life on some tropical isle somewhere. In between there's a message about appreciating life no matter what, and having good luggage. Hanks plays the affable man/boy that made him popular while Ryan has 3 roles, playing herself as the third. You might want to like it more than you actually do.

Apeneck Fletcher

Super Reviewer

An Average Joe. An Adventurous Comedy.

Not so bad as it's said to be. The movie is probably too allegorical for most tastes, but this is a good tale about a character afraid of life, afraid of that next step, who finds his courage and puts his foot forward again.

Joe versus the Volcano is a fable which opens with somewhat surrealistic scenes of the dehumanization of Joe Bank's job and work environment (at a company whose product rather literally screws people) with imagery that seems to have been inspired by the classic film Metropolis. Joe is diagnosed with an incurable disease, quits his dehumanizing job, and accepts an offer to briefly "live like a king, die like a man" - but to fulfill his agreement he must willingly jump into a live volcano on the island of Waponi Woo in order to appease the volcano god. En route to the island, Joe meets a series of interesting characters in NYC and LA, then boards a yacht, captained by Patricia Graynamore. During the voyage Joe and Patricia survive disaster, fall in love, and finally arrive at the island where they face their destiny.

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks prove once again that they have incredible movie chemistry. Meg Ryan plays 3 astonishingly different women, Dee dee, the shy women, who works with Joe Banks (Hanks), Angelica, the messed up woman living off of daddy's money and the independent and confidant, Patricia. Tom Hanks plays Joe, a man you fears everything in life. This is one of those movies that you'll want to watch again and again for many years to come (:

Cassie Hill

Super Reviewer

One of the few romantic comedies I can watch.

Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

Joe Versus the Volcano Quotes

Well, you're in a rotten mood, Patricia!
It's the sunshine: it gets me down.
– Submitted by Brent W (7 months ago)
Would you like to hear a poem?
Joe Banks:
Ok, sure.
Long ago, the delicate tangles of his hair covered the emptiness of my hand. Would you like to hear it again?
– Submitted by Brent W (7 months ago)
Joe Banks:
I have no interest in myself. When I think about myself, I get bored out of my mind.
– Submitted by Gary E (21 months ago)
My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.
– Submitted by Patrick C (22 months ago)
I wonder where we'll end up?
Joe Banks:
Away from the things of man, my love. Away from the things of man.
– Submitted by Matt M (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Matt M (2 years ago)

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