Joe Versus the Volcano is an overproduced, disappointing shaggy dog comedy: A nebbish is bamboozled by unscrupulous types to trade his meaningless existence for a grand adventure that’s linked to a suicide pact.
Pic starts promisingly with Tom Hanks going to work in the ad department of the grungy American Panascope surgical supplies factory. Meg Ryan as DeDe (in the first of her three gimmicky roles) sports dark hair in an amusingly ditzy Carol Kane impression as his mousey coworker. As an in-joke, the real Carol Kane pops up also in black wig later in the film, uncredited.
Hanks is a hypochondriac and his doctor, guest star Robert Stack, diagnoses a ‘brain cloud’, giving the hapless guy only six months to live. Coincidentally, eccentric superconductors tycoon Lloyd Bridges pops in to offer Hanks to ‘live like a king’ for 20 days before heading for a remote Polynesian island to ‘die like a man’, i.e. jump into an active volcano to appease the fire god.
Hanks indulges himself in some rather unfunny solo bits. Ryan has fun in her three personas, but they’re simply revue sketches.