Joe Versus the Volcano

I wasn’t eager to go to work, but I did.  I returned home hungry and tired.  After I took a nap, I watched “Joe Versus the Volcano,” an unusual movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.  I had actually seen this movie when it was originally in movie theatres back in 1990.  John Patrick Shanley was both writer and director.  He was known for the winning “Moonstruck” and the quirky “Five Corners,” along with the not-quite-as-enjoyable “The January Man.”  I think this movie tries for something beautiful and profound but doesn’t quite get there.  I thought that “Moonstruck” had more of a magical quality, even though this one is supposed to be full of magic, as it’s presented as a fairy tale.  Tom Hanks still looks like a youngster in this film.  I felt a pang of nostalgia at seeing people like Lloyd Bridges and Abe Vigoda.  I wondered how they shot the opening with all those cars and people.  Meg Ryan does a Peter Sellers-like turn in playing multiple characters, although two of them are supposed to be half-sisters.  I never liked the look of this picture, as the colorful parts don’t looks so colorful.  Ryan’s first character, named DeDe, is something like a dog that craves any kind of attention or affection, according to Meg herself.  The second character, named Angelica, describes herself as a flibbertigibbet.  It was the most interesting word in the entire screenplay.  Joe goes on a shopping spree, although I didn’t know why he bought the golf set.  I don’t know why he bought the tuxedo if he knew he was going to a Pacific Island called Waponi Woo.  During the trip to the island, we heard two of the best songs on the soundtrack, “Good Lovin’” and “Come Go with Me.”  I thought the fishing sequence had a funny last shot.  The portrayal of the Waponi island people was somewhat disturbing, as they seemed like cartoon characters, buffoonish and foolish.  The Meg Ryan in this movie was still the charming Meg Ryan, at least when she was Patricia, the third character.  She was unconscious for the longest time.  Some things in the story didn’t make too much sense, even for a twisted fable like this one.  It’s funny to think of Lloyd Bridges as a fairy godfather, as he has a fistful of credit cards to give away, and he is not open in his actions.  Some of the scenes on the sea brought to mind “Cast Away” and “Life of Pi.”  I thought the movie was rather flat, as shown by the ending.  I didn’t feel a sense of wonder or the optimism that things would work out.  I kept wondering what happened to the Waponi.  The way that Patricia was being treated reminded me of Judy Garland as Dorothy getting a makeover during her visit to the Emerald City.  John Patrick Shanley wouldn’t direct another film until “Doubt” in 2008.  Based on “Moonstruck” and “Five Corners,” I thought that he was going to turn out one great film after another for years.  That didn’t happen.  It’s hard to predict what a lot of individuals are going to do with their talent.  Since that first time I saw the movie, I’ve come to better understand what Joe was going through with his job.  I don’t want my job to take my soul away.  This movie had uncomfortable qualities, and it’s almost like a test of what kind of person you are.  I tried to imagine what Preston Sturges would have done with this material.  I don’t love this movie.  The romantic part with Patricia didn’t win me over.  Some of the people who died on May 23 include Victor Hugo (1885), Clyde Barrow (1934), Bonnie Parker (1934), Sterling Hayden (1986), Anne Meara (2015), and John Nash (2015).  Today is a birthday for Drew Carey (59), Linda Thompson (67), and Joan Collins (84).

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