I love Robert Downey Jr., and could happily bear his children, so a "magical romantic comedy" with him and my look-alike Elizabeth Shue was vastly appealing to my schmaltzy sap-absorbing, foolish heart. Heart and Souls (1993), is a light, sweet, touching, and often funny comedy on DVD. Thomas Reilly, played by the ever-handsome boyishly charming Downey, is, through an act of Fate, linked at birth with a quirky but endearing group of earthbound spirits who later on need his help.
It is hard not to be drawn in by the ghosts, because each represents a human foible that we just might recognize as our own. There's Mile (Tom Sizemore), a likeable leather-clad, sex-starved petty thief with a hint of a Jersey accent, who recognizes the folly of his ways and desperately wants to make amends. Harrison (Charles Grodin) is a gifted opera singer whose intense stage fright prevents him from realizing his dreams of stardom.
Kyra Sedgwick plays the kindhearted waitress Julia whose epiphany comes too late, as the lets the love of her life slip through her fingers. And single mom Penny (Alfre Woodard, of Desperate Housewives fame) is stunned by the consequences of her accidental demise, and longs to find her three dear children. The spirits discover an unlikely camaraderie in each other through their love and devotion to Thomas.
Unfortunately, four imaginary friends do not bode well for a young boy who is ridiculed and labeled by those who neither believe, nor see, so in a gut-wrenching scene, the ghosts make the ultimate sacrifice of putting Thomas' best interests and needs ahead of their own, and literally fade out of his life. The quartet, still inexplicably tied to Thomas, watch him grow up. When they realize that they must use him in his adult form to fulfill their own destinies, they suddenly reappear in his life. Great comedic consequences occur when the ghosts take turns inhabiting Thomas' body, initially without permission, infusing him with their own personalities and mannerisms.
Downey is a gem, whether he acts like a middle aged black woman with an attitude, or fights for control of his body on a boardroom table. Heart and Souls treats us to floating spectres, physical comedy, great music, and a glimpse of early car phones as big as bricks.
Heart And Souls is less a romantic comedy than a journey towards resolving the mistakes of the past. It teaches us to believe in Fate, relinquish fear, and go forward with love, and that it's never too late to set something right. Pass a big box of popcorn!