Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

One of the most under-rated movies ever.   No doubt about it. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan displayed great screen chemistry. But, for my money, their best romantic pairing wasn’t in their hits Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail but in film that was considered something of bomb when it was first released in 1990 but has grown something of a cult following since then. I’m talking about Joe Versus the Volcano.

Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck, Doubt), it’s the story of Joe Banks (Hanks) who, while toiling away at the deadest of dead-end jobs, is diagnosed by his doctor (Robert Stack) as having a “brain cloud,” a symptomless condition that, nonetheless, will kill him within six months.  Somehow, wealthy industrialist Samuel Graynamore (Lloyd Bridges) learns of Joe’s plight. Graynamore, seeking rights to a valuable mineral found only on the South Pacific island of Waponi Woo, woos Joe travel to the island where he will voluntarily jump into an erupting volcano to appease the islanders’ deity.  While making his journey, Joe meets Samuel Graynamore’s beautiful estranged daughter Patricia (Meg Ryan, who also has two other significant roles in the films) who has reluctantly agreed to captain the yacht that is to carry Joe the island. Needless, to say they fall in love — which is what makes this a great Valentine’s Day movie.

But, more than just a love story, Joe Versus the Volcano is a moving fable about finding the courage to face and embrace life — and the scene depicting a shipwrecked Joe praying under the over-sized moon is wonderful recognition of the sheer awesomeness of God.

It’s a romantic film that is funny, moving and though provoking. Highly recommended.  

Here’s my favorite scene:

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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