Very important question, here: do you remember Volcano. Please notice how I did not use an actual question mark because this is obviously more than a statement — of course you remember Volcano. It was majestic. It was terrifying. It was my “favourite movie” for the entire summer of 1997 until I saw Men In Black in theatres on my 12th birthday.
So yeah, I’d say it holds some serious clout.
I bring you Volcano today because a) there’s no way we can follow up Harry Potter with anything other than an iconic disaster film, and b) Gaby Hoffmann’s on Girls, so HELLO, tie-in. But what’s that? Is it an earthquake? Signalling the beginnings of a volcano attempting to push its way up through the streets of Los Angeles? I think it is. Or at least I hope so, because otherwise I’ve gotten this movie all wrong.
1. First things first: I wanted to be Gaby Hoffmann in this movie
And frankly, I think we all still want to be Gaby Hoffmann. I know I wanted to be her in Now and Then, and then I was super jealous that she played Tommy Lee Jones’ daughter when I had a crush on him (and I know that’s a very weird juxtaposition, but listen — I was 11). Anyway, she’s a cool teen in this movie, and I genuinely want the wardrobe she has. Also, if I ever grew my hair that long it would look like I have no hair. (I have the fine hair of an Irish/Lithuanian person — and I also can’t go in the sun.) So what I’m saying is, Gaby Hoffmann if you’re interested in friendship I am GAME.
2. Also, my love of Tommy Lee Jones knows no bounds
Have I told you guys about my Tommy Lee Jones crush? I hope so, because it’s very defining, and we all deserve to know about it. To put it plainly: I love Tommy Lee Jones. I loved him in The Fugitive, I loved him in Men in Black, I love him in Volcano, and I loved him when he stared with anger at the stage during the Golden Globes and created this meme:
I love Tommy Lee Jones. (And if he were younger, I’m sure we could date. I’m SURE.)
3. So onto the movie: probably the worst L.A. tourism film ever made
Yet we all still want to go there? I mean, obviously: look how lovely L.A. looks in the beginning. So sunny! All the radios and morning television shows! Such reasonable temperatures! It doesn’t hurt that in real life Los Angeles does NOT contain an active volcano, so what you see in the beginning of the movie is actually pretty true to life. Minus, of course, Tommy Lee Jones and Don Cheadle working for the city in any capacity. (Because they are award-winning actors.) (FYI.)
4. But IS Tommy Lee Jones a bad dad?
I remember watching this as a kid and thinking (because my Dad has to go to work when there’s a snowstorm, or he gets called in — he works for the region we live in) “Well yeah, of course he has to go into work — that’s his job?” I mean, he technically needs to work to feed his kid? Am I getting it wrong here? But I just remember my Dad having to go into work. Like, that was what had to happen if he got called into work. And it’s not like Tommy Lee Jones LIVES at work — he had to deal with an earthquake. And yes, Gaby Hoffmann is afraid of the earthquake, but hey — I am afraid of tornadoes. And I have had to brave many a tornado warning alone because my parents were at work. I AM JUST SAYING some people have to work. And in all fairness, Gaby’s babysitter seemed awesome?
Also, I was never that jazzed to hang out with my Dad. Like, I love him. But I was never like, “YOU DISAPPOINTED ME.” I’d just kind of be like, “Oh okay, well can I go over to so-and-so’s for dinner, then?” (IS THIS JUST ME?) (And yes, tooootally aware that Tommy Lee Jones is on “vacation.”)
5. Then things get d-a-r-k
Like, people succumb to a major explosion?! And one minute we’re watching Tommy Lee Jones cook eggs, and the next he is touching a charred corpse. THANKS FOR THE SEGWAY. Also, what up, Anne Heche, you are absolutely trespassing, I think.
6. Anne Heche’s character is out of control
WELL, hear me out. So Anne Heche is checking how those city workers died and that’s when it hits us: SHE IS A SCIENTIST WHAT IS SHE DOING THERE. So instead of investigating with a team, she and her friend (who I think was in Twister?) STEAL UNIFORMS and TRESPASS IN A CRIME SCENE. And okay, fine, her friend was absolutely interested in how and why this explosion happened, but when things started to get majorly intense down in the tunnel, you’d THINK they’d think, “I think it’s time for us to turn around and call it a day.” But no. No, they want readings. Of the WARMTH. As if the FLAMES didn’t give it away. Maybe I’d make a horrible scientist (yes), but FRIENDS. GET OUT OF THE TUNNEL.
7. But then it gets worse
Just so much worse. So Anne Heche’s friend falls into an enormous volcano crack, and as soon as Anne Heche comes upstairs, the ENTIRE CITY just goes to hell. I’m talking the Le Brea tar pits boil, and then . . . tar things happen? (#science) AND THEN the steam grates begin launching into the air and hitting things, pre-cursing the LAVA BOMBS. Girlfriend can’t even mourn her BFF. She is forced to deal with the IMMINENT DISASTER about to strike the sunny city of dreams.
8. I will say, congratulations to Tommy Lee Jones for bringing his daughter to work
Or something. The important thing is that he brings her with him on his adventures. (Until she has to go to the hospital, but we deal with that later.) I remember being 11 and thinking, “Wow there is NO WAY my Dad would be that cool, calm, and collected in an emergency.” He wouldn’t be panicking, but he’d do what us Donahues do best: become filled with rage in order to deal with crises. Barking orders and swearing a lot, mostly. But unlike Jones, we would be driving in the opposite direction of Los Angeles. Because that’s ALSO the Donahue way.