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USA 1990
Directed by
John Patrick Shanley
102 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Joe Versus The Volcano

John Patrick Shanley is best known as the writer of the hit Norman Jewison comedy Moonstruck (1987) and the greatest strength of Joe Versus The Volcano, his debut as a director, is its script. The first pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan who went on to mega-hits with Sleepless In Seattle (1993) and You’ve Got Mail (1998) is the story of chronic loser Joe (Hanks) who, diagnosed with a terminal disease, throws off the shackles of his humdrum existence and ends up falling in love with wacky heiress, Patricia (Ryan, who also plays two other, more amusing, roles within the film).

The film starts strongly with a Dennis Potterish sensibility which it maintains until about the half-way mark, at which point it drifts back to the familiar pathways of the Hollywood rom-com and a lot of disposable silliness as the couple get involved with a tribe of “primitives” on a Polynesian island. With a good cast including Dan Hedaya, Ossie Davis and Lloyd Bridges and some nicely off-beat dialogue Shanley’s film is worth watching as long as Hanks remains on American soil.




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