“Joe Versus the Volcano” is an underrated RomCom

Joe Versus the Volcano gets kind of a bad rap among RomCom movie critics, and it’s not hard to see why. The movie has a weird tonal inconsistency, and there’s a lot of strange stylistic choices, but Joe Versus the Volcano should still be appreciated for its unique premise and its utilization of its stellar cast.

The movie stars Tom Hanks as Joe Banks, a down-on-his-luck businessman who finds out that he is dying of a rare disease, and upon hearing this news decides that the most reasonable thing to do is to travel to the South Pacific and jump into a volcano as part of the traditions of a superstitious native island culture.

Joe Versus the Volcano sounds very grim on paper, but the movie tries to play this premise for both laughs and feels. It can come off as very disjointed at times, which I think explains why critics gave the film mixed reviews and considered this to be the low-point of the Hanks-Ryan RomCom trilogy (You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and Joe Versus the Volcano).

Joe Versus the Volcano should still be appreciated for its unique premise and its utilization of its stellar cast.

— Sol Doyscher

Meg Ryan appears as Patricia, a wealthy socialite who befriends Joe while he’s on his suicidal mission to the island. They meet on a yacht, and Patricia starts to show Joe that there may be a way out that doesn’t involve death.

Joe Versus the Volcano is a story about self-sacrifice, and it’s a concept you don’t see very often in romantic comedies. I like that the story is more centered around Joe’s emotional journey than just the relationship between him and Patricia (oh come on––as if it’s a spoiler that the two leads in a romcom are going to get together). The humor is very hit or miss, but there are some real gems in there (such as the awkward interactions between Joe and Patricia when they first meet).

I personally find Joe Versus the Volcano worth watching if only to see Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who have such natural chemistry on screen that it’s hard not to like them as a movie couple. They really fit well together, and I think that this movie wouldn’t be even half as good without either one of them. The rest of the cast is great as well, such as Lloyd Bridges––father of Jeff Bridges––and Robert Stack.

I’d say that Joe Versus the Volcano is an underrated gem among romantic comedies, and has a lot of novelty as well as a unique message.