Movie Night

Our editors give two thumbs up for 10 great beach films.

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Joe Versus the Volcano

Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

This modern fairy tale follows the standard formula with wit, humor, and a great soundtrack. When we first meet Joe Banks (Tom Hanks), his existence is gray and lifeless as part of an industrial machine that saps his soul of strength and vitality. Hypochondriac Joe is diagnosed with a "brain cloud" and only a few months to live by a convincing but dubiously connected doctor (Robert Stack). When he is offered an adventure that will end in the sacrifice of his life to satisfy "The Woo," a volcanic god on a small Pacific island inhabited by islanders who love orange soda so much that none of them will volunteer for the job, Joe agrees to live the rest of his life to the fullest and go out with a flourish. One favorite scene is when Joe and his newfound love, Patricia (Meg Ryan), are about to jump into the volcano. She wants to get married by the local chief and Joe balks. "You are afraid of commitment. You're going to have to love and honor me for about 30 seconds. You can't handle that?" she says. They take the leap, into both a relationship and the volcano, and the story ends as every fairy tale should. This film starts out as an indictment of the sterile, conformist big corporate environment and ends up as a celebration of life "away from the things of man." There are great observations about living without fear, taking chances, and finding our place in the universe. ―Gayle K. Christopher 

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