Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of the first movie to costar Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, Joe Vs. the Volcano. And I’m pretty sure this is the only site on the internet that will mark the occasion. Hanks and Ryan went on to appear in two more successful movies together. But Joe Vs. the Volcano seemed to confound critics and audiences alike. The movie received mixed reviews from critics and flopped at the box office. It effectively killed writer-director John Patrick Shanley’s directing career. The Oscar-winning screenwriter of Moonstruck returned to theater after his directorial debut.
But 25 years ago, I sat in an almost empty movie theater and was completely enchanted by Joe Vs the Volcano. I didn’t just like it. I loved almost everything about it. I was certain that a movie this wonderfully unique would eventually find an audience. And while I have found others who love Joe Vs. the Volcano as much as I do, popular opinion on the movie hasn’t really changed.
I used to watch Joe on a regular basis. But as adult responsibilities made repeat viewings of any movie less and less frequent, Joe Vs the Volcano faded from memory. Eventually I reached a point where I was almost afraid to watch it again. What if I didn’t love it anymore? What if I had been wrong and everyone else who thought the movie was silly and stupid was right?
For the movie’s 25th anniversary, I decided it was time to take a chance and jump back into the volcano.