Film Friday: Joe Versus the Volcano

If there's ever a movie that doesn't get the credit that it deserves, it's this one.

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan Co-Star in their FIRST role together (before Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail). With director John Patrick Shanley, who has done absolutely nothing of mention, this film uses imagery and metaphor to illustrate a man struggling to escape a boring routine of a life.

The first quarter of the movie illustrates the antagonist Joe Banks (Hanks), in his dead end job at a factory. The incandescent lights have flooded his windowless office with bright, lifeless, humming luminescence. He's battled this by bringing in his very own lamp that his boss quickly removes the lamp. This is one of many images of losing one's soul throughout the movie.

One great thing about this film, that I think has been killed by directors in recent years, is one actor playing several roles. Meg Ryan plays the office maiden DeDe (below), Angelica Graynamore (the "flibbertigibbet"), and her half-sister and captain Patricia Graynamore (pictured in the lei below). Each of Ryan's three characters play a distinctive role and different personality to Joe's situation. It's not as campy as the description suggests, and it's just a little extra time to look at the attractive Meg Ryan, before she went under the knife in the late nineties.

Once Joe Banks and Patricia Graynamore head to the island (I won't ruin the plot for you) the visual quality of the movie goes from the above still, to the following two. It really is a noticeable change, and another use of imagery to develop Banks as a character.

Kinda looks like Hanks in Castaway.... No?

I'll leave you with one more still of the film, this one from the Island Chief, and a word. If you've ever felt like your life was "under a cloud" and that there was no where to go but up, then you would enjoy this movie. I know I'm a Tom Hanks enthusiast, and that shouldn't sway your opinion. Truthfully, I wouldn't have heard of this movie without liking Hanks as much as I do, but had I seen it without liking Hanks... Well it would still be one of my top 15 movies.

Abe Vigoda in his best make-up ever.

I give it 4 and a half Desk Lamps, out of 5.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Great call. This was on the heels of When Harry Met Sally, when Meg could've starred in a cough drop ad and gotten 10 million viewers.