Joe Versus the Volcano

Screenwriter John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck) made his directorial debut with this whimsical contemporary fairy tale (1990). Tom Hanks plays a former fireman who's told by his doctor (Robert Stack) that he has only a short time to live. A wealthy businessman (Lloyd Bridges) offers him red-carpet treatment if Hanks will sail to a remote Pacific island (where the businessman wants to gain mineral rights) and dive into a volcano to appease the natives. Meg Ryan plays all three leading ladies, and Abe Vigoda, Amanda Plummer, Barry McGovern, and Ossie Davis are around for other offbeat parts. Borrowing liberally from Delmer Daves's Bird of Paradise, Shanley manages to achieve some striking pictorial effects and a few goofy gags and plot turns; he also tries for some uplift that's less convincing but easy enough to take. PG, 102 min.

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