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.
User Reviews: I am one of the few who saw this on the big screen TWICE when it opened. This is the movie I would take to the desert island, which miraculously has electricity a big screen and a DVD player. This is one of those rare films where every single character, no matter how minor, has a major impact on the hero and the plot. This film is also rare because the Lion’s share of the funny and insightful dialogue belongs to the minor characters and not the protagonists. You have to love a movie where a luggage salesman is a major plot milestone. Ossie Davis is excellent as the wise Limo driver, Lloyd Bridges is hilarious, Tom Hanks is of course everyman, and Meg Ryan, in one of her funniest roles, is actually "every woman". "You know, the first time I saw you I thought that I had seen you before." A witty hero is commonplace and witty cast is truly memorable.
The movie is probably too allegorical for most tastes, but this is a great tale about a character afraid of life, afraid of that next step, who finds his courage and puts his foot forward again.
All in all this is one of the best kinds of movies, Funny and Hopeful.