This review is a part of The Meg Ryan Birthday Blogathon. You can see all the details HERE.
Joe vs. the Volcano (1990)
Director (and writer): John Patrick Shanley
Cast: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Abe Vigoda, Dan Hedaya
When a hypochondriac learns that he is dying, he accepts an offer to throw himself in a volcano at a tropical island, and along the way there, learns to truly live. – IMDB
There’s always a special spark to watching Meg Ryan in any movies. Joe Versus the Volcano gives us three awesome helpings of this wonderful actress as she takes on three roles. In her first collaboration with Tom Hanks, which follows through a few years later with Sleepless in Seattle and then a few years after that You’ve Got Mail, its nice to see where it all started. While I can’t say that Joe versus the Volcano is especially better than her later works, its definitely one that has quite a fun little vibe to it. Tom Hanks, of course, delivers a fairly funny man role as he plays a hypochondriac. Right from the get-go, its kind of refreshing to see Tom Hanks in an earlier role especially since I have to admit that I’m not one that has followed his movies as closely as others have, despite thinking that he is a talented actor. In this one, its a side of Tom Hanks that I rarely see as he starts off in this gloomy character but still manages in all his unfortunate events to make it pretty funny to watch just through his expressions and reactions. In fact, with Joe being the title of this film, there is no doubt that anyone other than Joe, played by Tom Hanks is just a supporting character even if this film is considered a romantic comedy.
However, seeing as I am reviewing this for the Meg Ryan Birthday Blogathon, its hard to ignore Meg Ryan who goes through three characters and three transformations for each. The way the character dresses and the vibe that the character delivers all differ and are unique. In fact, when she firsts enters the movie as an office worker or secretary of sorts called Dede, she sports this fantastic accent and is almost hard to recognize. However, there is this fun character wrapped in this role that we see right before she leaves that role and the movie moves into the next part when we see her show up again in her second role as Angelica, the daughter of the rich man who asks Joe to jump into the volcano. This character is conflicted in her own way and is somewhat quirky because of her artistic nature or so we think she is until she shares some of her work and has this odd delivery. However, the final role as Angelica’s half sister, Patricia who ends up taking Joe to the island is the one that is the Meg Ryan that we all know as her elegant, fun and charming self but yet so very competent and beautiful. You can’t say that Meg Ryan doesn’t show off some great acting skills just through this one film. Impressive as always.
Overall, Joe versus the Volcano is a fun little romantic comedy. I’m not sure there’s so much romance as its a comedy and something of an adventure for Tom Hanks character Joe to embrace life more unafraid. However, as fun as Tom Hanks is, Meg Ryan is the reason I watched this movie and she definitely does an outstanding job, impressive as she always is as she takes on multiple roles in one movie. I can’t say its my favorite Meg Ryan film but its one that I’m happy that I finally caught up with. You can see my Meg Ryan Roles Ranked List HERE.
4 thoughts on “Meg Ryan Birthday Blogathon: Joe versus the Volcano (1990)”
I always enjoy your Meg Ryan reviews and this one is no exception. I do love Joe versus the Volcano. Meg looks like she’s having so much fun in this film playing the various roles, and I might be biased but I feel she was worthy of an Oscar nomination. I think it’s a marvelous triple performance. Each character is very different and Meg masters them all. I once read that Tom Hanks himself didn’t even recognize her the first time he saw her on set as the character De De. Thanks for getting involved Kim, I really did enjoy your contribution.
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Thanks Paul. I need to thank you for always giving me the chance to watch Meg Ryan films thats been sitting on my shelf for way too long!
It’s been YEARS since I’ve seen this one, but I think it’s time for a re-watch. I remember being a little puzzled by the film, although I was impressed by Ryan’s performances. Thanks for putting this on my radar! 🙂
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