Jen Versus the Volcano

29 May

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?


Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Tune In...


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13 responses to “Jen Versus the Volcano

  1. Thoughts and Rants in Jogging Pants

    May 29, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    It’s funny, that movie bombed so badly, but in College my Logistics teacher showed it to us. I’m not sure I understood/understand why, but it seems to be a more impactful movie than at first glance.

    • Jen

      May 29, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      Exactly. It got terrible reviews but almost seems to have a cult like following now. I saw an interview with Hanks just after it was released where he said there was no message in the movie, it was meant as pure entertainment. Hmmm, interesting. Anyway, i think its definitely worth a watch.

  2. viveka

    May 29, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Haven’t seen the movie … but I love your photo here with the massive moon – brilliant choice!

  3. Andrew

    May 30, 2012 at 12:01 am

    I still haven’t seen this movie, because my parents hated it so much when I was a kid. But they also didn’t let me watch ninja turtles, so…

    • John the Aussie

      May 30, 2012 at 12:43 am

      Sacrilege!! Your parents must be thrown to appease the volcano gods. I mean no ninja turtles? Bloody hell, the kids at ya school must of nunchucked ya butt because of that.

      • Andrew

        May 30, 2012 at 5:40 am

        Oh they did.

    • Jen

      May 30, 2012 at 7:35 am

      You know what you’ll be doing this weekend…. 🙂

  4. Viciously Sweet

    May 30, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I haven’t seen that movie in forever. The only thing I remember about that movie was Meg Ryan was like 3 different people, and I being a child when I saw it thought she obviously was triplets.

    • Jen

      May 30, 2012 at 7:39 am

      My husband hadn’t seen it before either. With the first girl, he was like, ‘she kinda looks like Meg Ryan.’ When the second one came along…he was even more confused ‘hang on, she REALLY looks like Meg Ryan.’ By the time the last time he finally said ‘oh no, that’s the real Meg Ryan.’ LOL

  5. Jen and Tonic

    May 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    I, like the commenter above, saw this video in college. The class was about watching films that bombed which maybe shouldn’t have.

    I love that quote, it’s a standout for me too. I worked with a guy who once told me to “rub my eyes and scrubs my ears” because I had been really naive about something at the time. I think people who are present in life aren’t afraid of seeing everything– the good, the bad, the ugly. You have to see bad to be amazed by the wonderful. My thoughts anyway.

    Loved the post.

  6. Rob Rubin

    June 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Hmmm. That movie was sealed away in the section of my brain that also includes such masterpieces as Police Academy 6 and Howard the Duck. Incidentally, my kid made a volcano the other day out of baking soda. It was the best day of his life apparently. Ah, to have that kind of innocence again.

  7. Matthew McGhan (@mattigan)

    July 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    When you’ve been drained of everything and realize you aren’t in control, and have 4 tight as a DRUM luggage pieces! Ya FliberdieJibit! Top 10 movie, loved it as a kid, didn’t know why, love it more now, and now I know why!

    • Jen

      July 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      Same same. I love it when he is using all the crazy things from his luggage. Gets me every time.


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