Heart and Souls (a review) by Christine Iannicelli

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Robert Downey Jr. is famous for his portrayal of Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes in recent years; you may even be familiar with his supporting roles in Gothika and U.S. Marshals, but most of you have probably never seen him in the 1993 feel-good film Heart and Souls.

Set in San Francisco, Heart and Souls follows four strangers who are killed in a bus crash and forced to become guardian angels to a young boy named Thomas (you might recognize the actor who plays a young Thomas as the kid who starred as Tim Allen’s son in The Santa Clause).  These four souls follow Thomas throughout his childhood, guiding him along the way and oftentimes getting him into trouble.  Eventually, they realize their presence in Thomas’ life is causing him more harm than good, seeing that his unusual behavior of singing and dancing with his “imaginary friends” is beginning to worry his parents.  They decide to go invisible, no longer allowing Thomas to see them.

Twenty-five years later, the ghosts are told by a heavenly messenger (coincidentally the bus driver who was responsible for their demise) that their time is up and that they were supposed to have used Thomas as a vehicle to right some past wrong or to find some closure.  Because of a celestial mix-up, they are given a very short amount of time to achieve redemption before having to leave Earth for good.  Desperate, the four ghosts appear to a grown-up Thomas (played by Robert Downey Jr.), who is now detached and cynical and none-too-thrilled to be confronted by his childhood “hallucinations” again.

Eventually, Thomas agrees to help his old friends resolve their unfinished business on Earth, but will he be able to help them in time?

Lighthearted and funny (particularly when Thomas is possessed by each of the ghosts), this film affords Robert Downey Jr. the opportunity to stretch his comedic and dramatic muscles and even gives him the chance to sing.  The four ghosts (including a young Kyra Sedgwick and Tom Sizemore) each bring something special to their characters and the ending is surprisingly heartwarming for a fantasy film such as this.

Check out Heart and Souls or any of the Robert Downey Jr.’s films that we own at the Gabriele Library.

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