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Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 2



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Average Rating: 2.7/5
User Ratings: 49,425

My Rating

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

Apr 2, 2002

Warner Home Video

Watch It Now


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

Cult classic with smoking, kissing, stereotypes.

September 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

An overlooked gem.

June 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs | Comments (2)
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.

November 26, 2002 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

An appealing film that defies simple categorisation.

September 5, 2002 Full Review Source:

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.

August 31, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
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.
November 28, 2012

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.
July 30, 2012
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

    1. Angelica: Well, you're in a rotten mood, Patricia!
    2. Patricia: It's the sunshine: it gets me down.
    – Submitted by Brent W (6 months ago)
    1. Angelica: Would you like to hear a poem?
    2. Joe Banks: Ok, sure.
    3. Angelica: 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 (6 months ago)
    1. Joe Banks: I have no interest in myself. When I think about myself, I get bored out of my mind.
    – Submitted by Gary E (20 months ago)
    1. Patricia: 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 (21 months ago)
    1. Patricia: I wonder where we'll end up?
    2. Joe Banks: Away from the things of man, my love. Away from the things of man.
    – Submitted by Matt M (2 years ago)
    1. Hairdresser: SHAZAM!
    – Submitted by Matt M (2 years ago)
View all quotes (7)

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