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Joe Versus the Volcano

Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures

Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures

Welcome to the first Cinema Sips theme week! Over this Thanksgiving holiday, I’m showcasing a week of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan films. Their movies are perfect for lazy afternoons spent digesting in front of the television, particularly with a post-dinner cocktail. Today, I’m screening the first of their collaborations- the totally underrated Joe Versus The Volcano.

I have to say, as much as I love Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan together in this, I didn’t fully appreciate the movie until I had entered the workforce and found myself in a depressing, entry level job. My situation was nothing as bad as Joe and his monotonous job sending out catalogs for surgical devices in a windowless, grey basement office with flickering florescent lights, but still it wasn’t a picnic. I liken this film to Office Space mixed with Castaway, with a dash of Metropolis.

Perpetually sick, Joe visits a doctor who tells him that he has a “Brain Cloud”. It has no symptoms, but he’s told that it will definitely kill him in a few months. Shortly after, he’s visited by a wealthy businessman who tells Joe that he’ll give him unlimited funds and travel arrangements to the South Pacific, if Joe will agree to jump into a volcano as a sacrifice to the gods for the people of Waponi Woo (who as luck would have it, have a rare mineral on their island that the businessman wants access to). Joe is urged to “live like a king, die like a man”, and that’s exactly what he decides to do.

The plot is admittedly ludicrous, but I adore the actors and the script, and the art deco sets are fabulous. Meg Ryan actually gets to play three characters, bouncing between a Betty Boop accent, a Valley Girl accent, and her own normal one. At each stage of Joe’s journey she is there in some form or another, and each time he meets her he tells her he’s sure they’ve met before. This theme of fate between the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is something that will carry through to their other films, but in this one it helps us see that everything that has happened on Joe’s journey has led to her.

For my cocktail pairing, I’m making a “Brain Cloud”. This features orange soda in tribute to the Waponis, and it’s a tropical, rum-based drink. Just a warning though, Joe’s “Brain Cloud” made him tired and puffy, and frankly I can’t promise that this won’t do the same depending on how many you consume. You’ve been warned!

Brain Cloud

1oz light rum

2oz pineapple juice

1oz Orange Soda

Pineapple slice for garnish

Mix the rum and pineapple juice together over ice in a shaker. Pour into a chilled martini glass, top with orange soda. Garnish with pineapple.


My hope today is that you watch this film and either realize how lucky you are that your life is nothing like Joe’s, or you realize that it is and now it’s time to “live like a king”. I love that this film celebrates taking control of your life, making brave choices, and buying fabulous luggage. So happy watching, happy drinking, and may you live to be a thousand years old. Cheers!

3 responses »

  1. I’m drinking a beer as I read this, although the next time I re-watch Joe Versus the Volcano I’m going to enjoy it drinking a “Brain Cloud.”

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Pingback: QQ1-10 (Quantifiable Quotation (10)): Joe Versus The Volcano – I Know He Can Get The Job | euzicasa

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