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See What You’ve Missed: HEART AND SOULS (1993)

April 21, 2008

Time to introduce another new semi-regular feature. “See What You’ve Missed” will showcase movies that were not big box office hits, but should be seen, and ARE available.

I start with HEART AND SOULS. HEART AND SOULS tells the story of Thomas Riley (Robert Downey Jr.), and four people who died the night Thomas was born. These people are Milo (Tom Sizemore) a petty thief trying to go straight, Harrison (Charles Grodin) a would-be opera singer, Penny (Alfre Woodard) a single mom trying to care for her children, but forced to work at night, and Julia (THE CLOSER’s Kyra Sedgwick) a woman afraid to tell the man she loves how much she loves him. These people die at the hands of a careless bus driver (David Paymer), and their souls are transported to Thomas’ side.

None of these people know why they are with Thomas, and it doesn’t help matters that only Thomas can see or hear them. It’s no surprise, then, that Thomas’ parents think he’s strange. Nor is it a surprise that Thomas is getting into mischief that catches the attention of Child Services. This leads the four souls to a heart-breaking decision to disappear from Thomas’ life, and just watch over him.

Thomas, meanwhile grows up to be a tough financial lawyer who saves what little emotion he has for his girlfriend, Anne (Elisabeth Shue). Anne is patient with Thomas, but it’s obvious that her patience is growing thin, and that Thomas is running out of time to make a commitment. Thomas is not the only one almost out of time. The four souls are also out of time. The bus driver who caused their death is back to take them to the hereafter. The souls only then find out that they were supposed to use Thomas to make their lives complete. They bargain for more time, and the clock is ticking.

When the souls do reconnect with Thomas, it’s no happy reunion, and after a bit of posessive persuasion, Thomas reluctantly agrees to help. This leads to scenes that are hilarious one moment and tear-jerking the next, as the souls take care of business. Thomas also undergoes a transformation as he helps the four souls. But will he be able to to make things right with Anne?

I saw this movie when it came out, and felt wonderful at the end. I still don’t see why this movie failed to score at the box-office. The characters were all likable in unique ways. The possession scenes were hysterically funny, and we’re treated to some great renditions of “Walk Like A Man”. I also think this movie would make a fantastic musical, but that’s another column. So, if you get the chance, check out HEART AND SOULS, a movie that lives up to its title.

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