Saturday, January 17, 2009

Movie Gem: Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

I loved this movie. Many people seem to shy away from it (I know I did), but after seeing it, I found myself pretty sated. I loved how the whole story is pure escapism, yet it runs down to a deeper level (there are many references to the soul). This is not your average Sleepless in Seattle or You've Got Mail, but it does help to have Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan with unmistakable their chemistry.

This movie is kind of a throwback to that Old Hollywood genre from the 30's and 40's. King Kong and The Lady Eve come to my mind.

John Patrick Shanely (The Pulitzer Prize winning writer of Doubt) penned the screenplay and directed the film as well.

It looks like Meg Ryan had a lot of fun in this movie. She plays three roles:
-a mousy assistant named Dee Dee who works with Joe at that dead end job of his
-a neurotic, flame-haired heiress/artist named Angelica
-and Angelica's half sister named Patricia (who suspects Joe of sleeping with her sister).
Meg did a good job on all her roles. She played some of them very camp, but she is just so charming that we can forgive her.

The movie is basically about your "Average-Joe" who works at a dead end job. After a routine check up, the doctor tells him he has a terminal illness-- a brain cloud (the first time I've heard of it too). Since Joe only has six months to live, he quits his job and assaults his boss-from-hell (played to perfection by Dan Hedeya).
Jobless, he hangs out at home and there, a kooky tycoon visits him and proposes a solution (they have the same doctor) to his inevitable dilemma: he can have all the money he wants, if he willingly jumps into a volcano as a human sacrifice.
Now that Joe has all the resources to shop 'till he drops, he gets a limo. In the car, the driver asks him where he wishes to go. Joe has no idea. The driver is irked and what follows is a quaint and wittily profound scene.

Some memorable and funny moments in the film include a Trunk, a costume and a humorously named boat. The whole movie, I found to be incredibly clever.

There are a number of images that I yet don't fully comprehend, yet they struck me is fairly powerful. For sure, I will have to re watch this movie and I hope you will watch it too.

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