On this day, March 9th 1990, twenty-five years ago, Joe versus the Volcano, the third collaboration between Tom Hanks and a member of the Spielberg family went on wide release in the US. Expectations were rather high, especially since the former two films (Richard Benjamin's The Money Pit and Penny Marshall's Big) were box-office hits as well.
Following in the footsteps of Shelly Long and Elizabeth Perkins, the leading ladies in the aforementioned The Money Pit and Big, was Meg Ryan, who had just had a huge world-wide hit with When Harry Met Sally.
However, Joe Versus the Volcano failed to meet with the high expectations. Box-office results for Joe stopped just short of $40 million (not much compared to the $93 million that When Harry Met Sally or the $116 million that Big grossed).
The premise of Joe versus the Volcano wasn't very uplifting to begin with, so maybe that had something to do with the final results...
Joe, the main character, (portrayed by Tom Hanks) is diagnosed with an incurable disease, quits his job, and accepts an offer to briefly "live like a king, die like a man" instead of waiting for his end to come.
To fulfill his agreement (after he has been offered the life of a king, as promised) 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 (played by Meg Ryan). During the voyage Joe and Patricia survive disaster, fall in love, and finally arrive at the island where they will have to face their destiny.
The film was written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, who debuted as a director with this film. John has only ever written and directed one feature after this (Doubt, starring Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, based on the play he had so succfully produced on Broadway) in 2008.
However he has written a lot of screenplays (We're Back- a Dinosaur's Tale, Alive and Congo to name a few) and has been doing a lot of work on Broadway.
Meg Ryan has starred in a lot of lighthearted romantic comedies since (even a few with co-star Tom Hanks that were a lot more successful, like Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail.
Tom hanks hasn't done very bad since then either. He has starred in a lot of box-office hits, including a few directed by our Steven, like Saving Private Ryan, Catch me if You Can, The Terminal and the soon to be released (well October isn't that far away actually) St.James Place and he also gained a lot of success as a producer of hit-series like The Pacific and Band of Brothers (both teaming him again with Spielberg).
So maybe it's time to give the film a second chance ?
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