Do you sell your soul for money? How much of your life story is a money story ruled by choices about what you will do or not do for money?
One of my favorite movies is Joe Versus the Volcano. It’s silly movie that is truly profound. As a story, it’s an extended parable about what people will do for money. The story shows people sleepwalking through their lives, half dead, for the sake of their jobs.
Tom Hanks is Joe Banks. The first truths that we learn about him are that he has a lousy job and that he doesn’t feel well. One of his first lines of dialogue in the movie is, “I am losing my sole.” He points to his shoe, but the pun makes clear that the lousy job is costing him his soul. We also discover that the job is costing him his health.
Nobody Feels Good
Everyone at Joe’s job is sick and looks half dead.
The secretary needs an inhaler to breathe and is afraid of death, even though she is already half dead.
Joe never feels good and spends his time and money visiting the doctor.
His thoroughly reprehensible and miserable boss, Mr. Waturi, makes the statement, “Nobody feels good. After childhood, it’s a fact of life. But I don’t let it bother me. I don’t let it interfere with my job.”
Joe’s doctor tells Joe that he is dying with a mysterious illness and has exactly six months to live. The diagnosis is a lie, but Joe doesn’t know that.
Joe returns to his miserable windowless, basement office lit by buzzing fluorescent lights, and realizes that he has sold his soul and sacrificed his life for a job paying him three hundred dollars a week. Joe quits his job, and goes home to die.
How Much Does It Cost To Buy A Life?
The next day, the ultra-rich Mr. Granamore shows up and makes Joe an offer. If Joe will go to a tiny island in the South Pacific and jump into a volcano to appease the angry volcano, Mr. Granamore will get rights to a rare mineral called boobaroo.
What’s the price that Mr. Granamore will pay Joe for his life? A stack of credit cards, a night on the town, a first-class trip to Los Angeles, an ocean voyage, and the opportunity to die as a hero.
Despite the preposterous plot and some bad acting, the movie raises profound questions about life choices and what people will do for money.