Volunteers (film)

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This article is about the 1985 American comedy film. For other uses, see Volunteer (disambiguation).
Volunteers (film).jpg
The movie cover for Volunteers.
Directed by Nicholas Meyer
Produced by Walter F. Parkes
Richard Shepherd
Written by Keith F. Critchlow
David Isaacs
Ken Levine
Music by James Horner
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
August 16, 1985
Running time
107 min.
Country USA
Language English
Budget $25 million
Box office $19,875,740

Volunteers is a 1985 American comedy film directed by Nicholas Meyer and starring Tom Hanks and John Candy in their second film together after Splash (1984).


Lawrence Bourne III (Tom Hanks), is a spoiled rich kid who just graduated from Yale ("A College") Class of 1962; with a $28,000 gambling debt. After his father, Lawrence Bourne Jr. (George Plimpton), refuses to pay his son's debt, Lawrence escapes his angry creditors by trading places with his college roommate Kent (Xander Berkeley) and jumping on a Peace Corps flight to Thailand.

There he is assigned to build a bridge for the local villagers with Washington State University graduate Tom Tuttle From Tacoma (John Candy) and the beautiful, down-to earth Beth Wexler (Rita Wilson). What they do not realize is that the bridge is coveted by the Central Intelligence Agency, a local communist force, and the powerful drug lord Chung Mee (Ernest Harada).



The film was in the works for six years before it was made. Volunteers was filmed in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. The filmmakers built a Thai village based on the Karen people of Burma's Golden Triangle, building the world's "longest suspension bridge" which was more than 250 yards long. A cast of over 100 people from all over the world, including Thai families, spent two and a half months filming.[1]

Meyer states that the director of the Peace Corps, Sargent Shriver, read the script and complained that it "was like spitting on the American flag," and demanded changes. The changes were never made, but by the time the film was released, Shriver was no longer director, and Peace Corps officials were willing to endorse the movie.[1][2]

This film marked the reunion of Hanks and Candy, who starred in Splash. It is also the film where Hanks reconnected with his future wife, Rita Wilson, whom he had first met when they worked on an episode of Bosom Buddies.[3]

The scene in which Wilson and Hanks enjoy Coca-Cola was criticized as product placement, as TriStar was a unit of Columbia Pictures, then owned by The Coca-Cola Company. Co-writer Levine denies this, stating that the scene appeared in the first draft of the film written in 1980, when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was to be the studio.[4]

The film spoofs a number of David Lean epics, including Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai, with the Washington State University Fight Song used in place of the "Colonel Bogey March"[citation needed].


Critical response[edit]

Volunteers received generally mixed to negative reviews. The film has a 58% score on Rotten Tomatoes.[5]

Gene Siskel stated that the film had "two lame performances by its leading actors, the vastly overrated Tom Hanks... and the consistently disappointing John Candy."[6]

Box office[edit]

The movie debuted at No.2 at the box office.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Knelman, Martin. "Laughing on the Outside: The Life of John Candy". pp. 125–126. 
  2. ^ Sandra Blakeslee (August 18, 1985). "Behind The Jokes, Volunteers Ponders Altruism". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ "Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson". People. February 12, 1996. 
  4. ^ Levine, Ken (September 25, 2011). "Product Placement Before It Was Cool". kenlevine.blogspot.com. Retrieved October 2, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Volunteers". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  6. ^ Siskel, Gene (August 20, 1985). "'Volunteers' Signs up for disappointing trip". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  7. ^ "Michael Fox Stays On Top With `Future,` `wolf`". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 

External links[edit]