Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) Blu-ray Review: When Tom Met Meg

John Patrick Shanley's quirky fantastical romance hits Blu waves with a stellar transfer from the Warner Archive Collection.
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After his Academy Award-winning screenplay for 1987's Moonstruck, playwright John Patrick Shanley launched into the '90s by taking the world into a different corner of comedy altogether. It was the first time Shanley directed a film ‒ something he wouldn't do again until crafting his own stage work for the screen in 2008 ‒ but it would go on to become a genuine American cult classic. A fairytale romance perfect for pairing with The Princess Bride, Joe Versus the Volcano was also the first time filmgoers were treated to the award-winning chemistry of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who would reunite two more times throughout the forthcoming decade to bring us Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail.

Here, Hanks portrays an average schmo (with plenty of baggage) in a near Kafkaesque New York City, who learns he has a deadly and incurable disease by physician Robert Stack. With literally nothing to live for, our hero accepts an offer to appease the superstitious natives of a tiny South Pacific island by tossing himself into their volcano. Ms. Ryan plays not one, but three different characters along the way, each of whom Hanks attempts to romance ‒ albeit under some of the strangest circumstances ever conceived. Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment produced the offbeat tale, giving Mr. Shanley the necessary creative control he needed to bring this strange fantasy romance to filmic life. Shanley also penned two songs for the soundtrack, which also includes a number of classic favorites.

Among the familiar faces cast in Shanley's first (of, to date, only two) theatrical directorial efforts are Lloyd Bridges as Ryan's father, the one and only Abe Vigoda as a tribal chief (!), Dan Hedaya, Ossie Davis, Amanda Plummer, Carol Kane (as Lisa LeBlanc), and a fairly new-to-film stage actor named Nathan Lane, who also portrays an "islander". The Warner Archive Collection presents Joe Versus the Volcano in a stellar new 2K scan, which has been meticulously restored for this release. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and includes a DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, optional English (SDH) Subtitles, as well as a featurette, music video, and trailer from the old Warner DVD.

Highly Recommended.

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