There aren’t many on-screen duos that work better as partners than Tom Hanks And Meg Ryan. You’ve got mail And Sleepless in Seattle are not just two excellent romantic comedies from brilliant female directors, they serve as the perfect epitome of what this genre can be like. Sticking to a certain formula can work if the actors have chemistry that provides authenticity and evokes emotion, and both films end with impressive moments with Hanks and Ryan committed to an emotional line, even if one is about recovering from loss and the other is about email scams. Romantic comedies, unfortunately, are often denied theaters now, and it’s easy to exclaim poetically about how the genre looked at its best when frequent co-stars were so good together; Hanks still does comedies from time to time, but they rarely feature such touching intimate romantic relationships. Those who want to bring back the same magic need to watch the very first collaboration between them, because Joe vs Volcano is one of the craziest rom-coms ever made, but also one of the most effective. Who would have thought that a film about a descent into hell would bring so much laughter, soulfulness and optimism?
Joe vs Volcano focuses on bleak office worker Joe Banks (Hanks), whose grueling world days are usually accompanied by a series of illnesses and extensive doctor visits to cure him of depression, isolation, and a seemingly series of chronic illnesses. In the first sign of the film’s comedic dark edge, Banks’ doctor informs him that while there is nothing clinically wrong with him, he suffers from an incurable disease called “brain cloud” that leaves him only a few months to live. The very notion of a “brain cloud” is ridiculous, it seems to be lifted from Saturday night life sketch, which makes it more fun when defined by Dr. Ellison (Robert Stack), Banks’ medical adviser, says all of his symptoms are related to a previous injury in his former career as a firefighter. With no hope of survival, Allison leaves Banks a general remark on how to use the last five or six months of his life in a personally satisfying way, but does not go into any detail or provide any practical knowledge. It takes a crazy plan and a trinity of Meg Ryan Joe vs Volcano from a depressing black comedy to something much more heartfelt.
The power of Meg Ryan
Ryan’s skills are often underestimated, as Hanks has achieved a level of success and recognition that is almost unmatched by contemporary movie stars. However, Ryan’s performance is transformative. Joe vs Volcano from absurdity to sincerity. In a bold move, Ryan plays three different characters throughout the film; it’s not an unheard of technique, but it doesn’t play various exaggerated caricatures like Eddie Murphy V Arrival in America. It is three different women who influence Joe’s life and guide him on his strange journey, sinking into a somewhat understandable state of insanity given the surprising nature and lack of details about his condition. It is as if these three roles encompass a wide range of reactions that a person who hears such disturbing news can have.
Ryan’s first role is DeDee, a former colleague of Banks, with whom he realizes that he is secretly in love with him after he is diagnosed. With all worries about pride behind them, Banks decides to ask her out, and their opening date is just as easy and charming as it was later. Insomnia in Seattle or You’ve got mail. Unfortunately, their chemistry is short-lived, reflecting some people’s inability to deal with struggling partners when Dee Dee decides that the expected brevity of the relationship makes them a doomed prospect. A similar, though not as extensive, role for Ryan appears in the second performance as Angelica, an erratic socialite relatively indifferent to Banks’ mental health issues, who helps him get to his father’s boat. It’s a brief window into the life of the carefree, wealthy class that Ryan sets apart from Dee Dee; however, Angelica is instrumental in introducing Banks to her sister Patricia Graysmith, the third woman to influence Joe’s life, who finally pushes him in the right direction.
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are sincere and funny
Screenwriter-director John Patrick Shanley must have one of the most unique track records of any major Hollywood director. After winning an Oscar for writing Lunarhe went on to write and direct an exciting historical play Doubt, as well as the recent romantic comedy wild mountain thymethe film is so strange that it requires careful analysis. joe vs volcano much weirder and more comedic, but it draws on many of the same truths about human nature that are found throughout Stanley’s work. Oddly enough, Joe’s decision to literally dive headlong into a volcano to extract a precious mineral for Patricia’s father, Samuel Harvey (Lloyd Bridges) makes sense in its perverted state of fighting a disease that no one has anything to do with; he is offered the resources he needs to enjoy his last days if he can complete the mission, and for now, Banks has nothing to lose. However, Ryan provides him with one last thing he can invest in as Patricia and Banks begin to fall in love with each other during the trip where he will literally go to hell.
joe vs volcano goes from whimsical to emotionally true at an incredible rate; after the episode in the volcano with production design and visuals worthy of Joe Dante or John Carpenter, Ryan and Hanks exchange dialogue about pursuing their love to a bitter end that almost brings tears. The subsequent revelation that Joe had been misdiagnosed does not seem to be a cop-out, but rather a reward for their continued optimism. It’s a beautiful, absurd and insanely charming first collaboration that gave 1990s cinema some of its cutest and most sensitive moments.
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