It’s 1990 and Tom Hanks agrees to make a quirky movie called…Joe Versus the Volcano. As an 11 year old, I happily emersed myself in this movie and loved the montage where he was stranded on his four watertight, all purpose trunks in the middle of the ocean. But it wasn’t until I watched it recently, that it struck an entirely different chord with me.
As a kid, I used to fast forward the opening sequence where Joe Banks and the rest of the workers trudge slowly into work, looking depressed and as grey as the sidewalk. It was boring, it was bland. And I guess that’s exactly the point. Joe was living this ghastly conformist life that made him sick. He didn’t even know why he did things…he didn’t question them. He just went to work every day, half asleep. Gah.
Besides the excellent rectal probe references, which I obviously hadn’t picked up before, his arrival at work made me draw some comparisons to my own morning ritual. Ok, so I don’t have it as bad as poor Joe (and I don’t work with rectal probes), but I often feel blotchy and drained sitting under the fluorescent lights. And I swear to you that my glands go up and my throat feels scratchy when I arrived there and turn on my computer. (Maybe its just because its flu season?)
There is a scene where Joe’s Manager – Mr Waturi is on the phone repeating himself…”But can he do the job. I know he can get the job but can he DO the job? I’m NOT arguing that with you. I’m not arguing that with YOU. I’m not ARGUING that with you. I’m not ARGUING that with you Harry! Harry… Harry… Yeah Harry… but can he DO the job. I know he can GET the job but can he do the job?” I’m pretty sure I’ve said the exact same thing. Well….almost.
A terrible hypochondriac, Joe is told he has a “brain cloud”. An incurable disease with no symptoms. In fact, you don’t even realise there’s a problem until you’re dead. So after an offer he can’t refuse, he is given the option to live out his remaining days like a hero…and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. He sets sail to the island of Waponi Woo where he will jump into a live volcano to appease the volcano god.
The best quote of the whole movie is when Patricia says to Joe:
“My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake, and they live in a state of constant, total amazement.”
So the question remains…when do I book myself on the first yacht to Waponi Woo? When do I wake up and start living in a state of constant, total amazement?