- 1 hr 47 min
The 1985 film "Volunteers" is a comedy-adventure flick directed by Nicholas Meyer and stars Tom Hanks, John Candy, and Rita Wilson. The story is set in 1962 and follows the journey of Lawrence Bourne III (Tom Hanks), a spoiled Ivy League graduate who's trying to escape his gambling debts by joining the Peace Corps. He soon meets John Tuturro (John Candy), a tough-talking veteran with a heart of gold, and Beth Wexler (Rita Wilson), a self-assured young woman who's looking for excitement, and the trio travels to Thailand as part of their assignment.
Lawrence is initially unwilling to do any work and wants to return home as soon as possible. But he soon realizes that life won't be easy in Thailand, where he encounters customs and traditions that are vastly different from what he's used to. He's also shocked to see the level of poverty and deprivation that exists in the region, and he begins to wonder if he's up for the challenge.
Once in Thailand, the volunteers are tasked with building a bridge across a river in the small rural village of Wat-Chai. The area is controlled by a group of Communist rebels who are opposed to the American presence in the region. Lawrence, John, and Beth must work alongside locals, who initially view them with suspicion, to complete the bridge. They must confront several challenges along the way, including a group of bandits who try to steal their supplies, and dealing with the corrupt local officials who demand bribes to allow them to complete their work.
As the volunteers work on the bridge, they begin to adapt to the local culture and become more invested in their mission. Lawrence, in particular, starts to gain a new perspective on life, realizing that there's more to it than money and material possessions. He begins to see the value of helping others and becomes passionate about the project. John, on the other hand, is more concerned about the safety of the locals and tries to protect them from the Communist threats. Beth, who is initially aloof and guarded, slowly opens up to Lawrence and the two begin to develop a romantic connection.
The film touches on issues such as cultural differences, imperialism, and corruption. However, it does so in a light-hearted and comical way that mainly focuses on the budding romance between Lawrence and Beth, and John's efforts to keep the trio safe. The cast's excellent performances make the movie an enjoyable watch, and the chemistry between the three leads is palpable. Tom Hanks, in particular, delivers a standout performance, delivering his lines with perfect comedic timing and effortlessly portraying the character's transformation from a spoiled brat to a selfless volunteer.
In addition to the themes mentioned above, "Volunteers" also explores the changing social landscape of the 1960s. As the volunteers travel through Thailand, they encounter different countercultural movements, such as the Beat generation and the Free Love movement. The movie also touches briefly on the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, giving the film a level of depth and nuance that is unusual for a comedy.
All in all, "Volunteers" is an entertaining and enjoyable flick that will leave viewers with a sense of warmth and inspiration. The film's themes are as relevant today as they were in the 1960s, reminding us of the transformative power of compassion and the importance of helping others.
Volunteers is a 1985 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 47 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.5 and a MetaScore of 55.