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Thursday, June 29, 2017

'Joe Versus the Volcano' BD: Tom Hanks Shows Meg Ryan A Whole Lotta Lava


The Warner Archive June 20, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1990 Tom Hanks comedy "Joe Versus The Volcano" provides a good chance to see the charm of this film from a 2017 perspective. This is not to mention Blu-ray amping up the Coen Brothers caliber soundtrack that ranges from the dystopic 1946 folk song "Sixteen Tons" to the 1966 Rascals pop tune "Good Lovin'" and making the awesome cinematography that runs the gamut from the bleakest of the bleak to the so bright ya gotta wear shades pop.

The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Joe" provides a good synopsis of the film and a strong sense of its style.


The incredibly depressing opening credits and the scenes that immediately follow establish that the titular human combatant is the miserable advertising manager at a medical supply company that specializes in rectal probes. Anyone familiar with the surreal film "Brazil" and other movies of that era that include stylized images of a hellish drab existence get the picture.

A doctor telling Joe that he has a rare brain disease that will kill him in a few months provides Lava Boy proof that just because you are a hypochondriac does not mean that nothing is wrong with you. This news prompts Hanks to exercise his awesome brand of wacky humor in the form of quitting in spectacular style that includes giving his tyrannical boss (Dan Hedaya of the failedcom "The Tortellis" and numerous other roles) much more than one finger.

Future Hanks "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail" co-star Meg Ryan plays her first of three characters in these scenes; she is mousy downtrodden office worker DeDe.

Lloyd Bridges plays millionaire businessman Graynamore, who shows up at the ramshackle home of Joe the next day with the offer of a short lifetime. The incentive of this one-percenter for a good relationship with the hilariously unique natives of a small South Seas island prompts Graynamore to offer Joe a taste of the lifestyle of the rich and famous in exchange for going volcano diving. Some hilarity and a great deal of amusement ensues.

"Joe" goes on to play tribute to the 1989 hit "Driving Miss Daisy" by having our average guy hire an older black man (Ossie Davis) to chauffeur him during a Manhattan shopping spree and to share his wisdom. They almost are best friends at the end of the day.

Joe arriving in Los Angeles brings him in contact with the second of three characters that Ryan plays. Quirky Valley Girl/Graynamore daughter Angelica greets Joe at the airport and plays hostess until escorting him to the sailboat that is going to take him to his final destination in both senses of the word.

The ship provides the setting for the other two Ryan characters; Captain/owner/Grayanamore daughter/Shark Girl Patricia is the anti-Angelica in that she is a preppy outdoorsy type who seeks independence from her daddy. She and Joe bond during their journey.

An incident during the cruise evokes thoughts of another film that involves Hanks being on a mission with an element of absolutely positively needing to get there on time. This leads to the final scenes (which have their own entertaining twists).

The post-bout analysis of the film is that folks who did not love it in 1990 should enjoy it more this time around; it also provides younger viewers who only know Hanks from his modern dramatic roles (or as the dad of Colin Hanks) a chance to experience the wacky comedies from his early career.

The BD extras include a very artistic music video of "Sixteen Tons" and a "making-of" documentary about Joe.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Joe" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.