Sunday, June 01, 2008

Heart and Souls

Title: Heart and Souls (1993)
Dir: Ron Underwood
Rating: **** out of 5 stars

I am not usually a sucker for chick flicks, but I'll admit it - this film made me choke up at least once or twice. It is sweet, romantic, and pretty funny. I cannot believe I'd never even heard of it before this month, since it has classic comedy written all over it.

In 1959, four people died in a bus crash at the exact moment Thomas Reilly was being born. Consequently, their souls are tied to him and they are forced to follow him around, though they don't know why. Little Thomas loves his four invisible friends, but when his parents threaten to put him in an institution for his strange behavior, the four souls decide they must not let Thomas see them anymore. They go invisible to the boy, and break his little heart.

Thirty years later, Thomas is a grown man (Robert Downey Jr.) with a corporate job and a nice girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue) to whom he won't commit. The four souls learn that they were supposed to use Thomas to do the one thing they should have done before dying. Upon learning this, they re-appear to him and convince him to help them fulfill their second chances. Reluctantly, Thomas helps them and, in the process, he gets his own second chance at love.

The four souls include: Tom Sizemore as a small-time thief, plagued with guilt for the one thing he shouldn't have stolen; Charles Grodin as a wannabe vocalist who never had the guts to try; Alfre Woodard as a mother who wants nothing more than to see her children again; and Kyra Sedgwick as a waitress who foolishly let the love of her life slip away. All the actors are great here, including ones I have never liked before (i.e., Sedgwick). Within 5 minutes of the film's start, I felt sad knowing that they were all about to die. They are such nice characters, and continued to entertain as the spirits in-limbo.

Downey Jr. is also adorable and funny as Thomas. There are a few moments when the souls possess Thomas, and RDJ acts like them. The results are hilarious, especially when he acts like Sizemore's sex-crazed character or sassy black woman Woodard. He puts a lot of physical humor into the role, and it pays off. I also want to mention Eric Lloyd who plays young Thomas because he was adorable and breaks my freakin heart when he cries in this movie. No child has had that effect on my since Julian in Big Daddy ("I won't sing the kangawoo song anymore!").

Heart and Souls is guaranteed to tug your heartstrings. It is a must-see for lovers of romantic comedies or fantasies (e.g., Big or Groundhog Day) or fans of anyone in the cast.