Heart and Souls
|Heart and Souls|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ron Underwood|
|Produced by||Nancy Roberts
|Written by||Brent Maddock
S. S. Wilson
|Starring||Robert Downey, Jr.
|Music by||Marc Shaiman|
|Cinematography||Michael W. Watkins|
|Editing by||O. Nicholas Brown|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release dates||August 13, 1993|
|Running time||104 minutes|
|Box office||$16,581,714 (USA)|
Heart and Souls is a 1993 fantasy/comedy film starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tom Riley, who helps the souls of four deceased people who are trapped on earth and can only be seen by him and is recruited to help them take care of their unfinished business. The movie was directed by Ron Underwood and was filmed in San Francisco.
In 1959, Frank and Eva Reilly are on their way to the hospital, as Eva is in labor with their first child. As they are driving, Harrison (Charles Grodin), Julia (Kyra Sedgwick), Milo (Tom Sizemore), and Penny (Alfre Woodard) are presented as passengers on the same bus. Hal, the bus driver (David Paymer) is focused on a car to his left where a man is touching a woman's exposed leg. He loses control of the bus and crashes off an overpass, killing all four of the characters as well as himself. Each one had unfinished business in his or her life, and instead of going to heaven, they find themselves as ghosts, tied to the newborn Thomas Reilly, who was born in the vehicle at the moment the four passengers lost their lives.
Only Thomas is able to see the four ghosts, who try to act as his guides and guardian spirits. Penny, Julia, and Harrison often act as surrogate parents with him, but Milo, while he does bond with Thomas, often uses him and gets the boy into trouble, such as using him to look at adult magazines and to get into an adult horse race. Eventually, one day a man from Child Welfare, Charles Polito, comes to see the Riley family, claiming he found Thomas at the horse race and he explains a story Thomas mentioned saying Frank would "give him a beating if he doesn't place his bets." After realizing that many adults are worrying over Thomas' "imaginary" friends, including his parents and his teacher, they decide it's best to hide from him and they all vanish in front of him one by one on a stormy night, much to Thomas' devastation.
Twenty-five years later, when their `sentence' on Earth is up, Hal comes to collect them in the broken down old bus he's been driving around Earth for the last quarter-century collecting souls of the dearly departed as punishment for killing four innocent people.
After getting resistance from the foursome, Hal finally tells them that they were supposed to have been using their internment on Earth as well as their corporeal being (Thomas) to resolve their remaining issues, concluding with the comment that if the corporeal being refused to cooperate, then they were fully allowed to enter his body themselves and force the action.
Having heard none of this in advance, the foursome give Hal a piece of their mind. They argue that since they'd been unaware of their mission all this time, then it was Heaven's mistake and the group should be given them time enough to complete their missions.
Hal runs interference and buys them a little time, but not much. In a panic they make themselves visible once again to a now-grown Thomas (Robert Downey, Jr.), which proves to be a project and a half in itself, but by now, he is a cold, distant businessman whose only problem according to the man himself is the actions (or in some cases the lack thereof) on the part of his girlfriend Anne (Elisabeth Shue). Though reluctant at first, he eventually agrees to help them fulfill their final tasks.
Milo, a petty thief, regrets a decision he made right before his death to steal valuable stamps, a family heirloom, from a child. He possesses Thomas to complete the task of stealing the stamps back from his former boss, who still has them. He returns the stamps anonymously to their overjoyed owner. Ten seconds later Hal comes to collect him, leaving no time for lengthy or teary goodbyes.
Harrison was a would-be singer who was very talented, but had severe stage fright. He died shortly after giving up at an audition, unable to perform. After encouragement from Thomas and the others, he works up the nerve to sing the National Anthem while in Thomas's body at a B. B. King concert where they sneak on stage. Harrison is a big hit, but soon after his performance the police detain Thomas, who is nevertheless satisfied that Harrison's final act was a success. He boards the bus as a happy man shortly afterward.
Penny was a single mother who had been spending her time with Thomas trying to discover the fates of her three children after her death. Earlier in the day, the group had gone to Penny's old neighborhood to look for clues. They find Penny's ex-neighbor Agnes Miller (Janet MacLachlan) now an elderly woman who still took care of the neighborhood cats as she did when the kids were little. She told them that while Penny's two daughters were adopted by the Timersen's, a good family in Sacramento, she'd lost track of Billy after he entered the foster care system.
After Thomas' post-performance arrest, he, Julia and Penny rush out of the police parking lot eager to continue their search for Billy. However as they exit, Thomas hits another car and it turns out the car is being driven by the police officer (Wren T. Brown) with whom Thomas has had constant run-ins throughout the movie. He is traveling with his wife and baby daughter and as he and Thomas argue about the accident, the little girl begins to cry.
The police officer attempts to soothe her by singing a piece which Penny recognizes as Billy's favorite. Made up on the spot one night to sing for her children over a quarter-century ago, Penny is convinced that nobody else would know the song, and that this is her son. She tells Thomas to ask the officer if he was ever adopted and if his first name is Billy.
Curtly, he says yes, so, knowing that telling the truth in this matter will only cause him to get locked up in an insane asylum, especially with the present and recent circumstances, Thomas babbles through the closest plausible scenario he can think of for why he's the only other person on the planet that would know that lullabye: because his mother was in the same hospital shortly after giving birth to him on the same night that Billy's mother came into the same hospital with her soon-to-be fatal injuries from the bus crash, and had taught the song to his mother shortly before she passed.
Dazed and confused, Billy is not sure whether to buy the story or not, but in a further attempt to convince the officer of their connection, Thomas tells Billy about his two sisters as well as Agnes, whom Billy remembers from his youth. Still dazed, Billy then admits he'd spent the last two decades trying to find them, but had been unable to gain access to the sealed adoption records. Excited to discover this young officer is her son, Penny possesses Thomas to give him a hug and tells him that she was always there for him and loves him. Billy is still disoriented and not fully convinced by Thomas's story, but they part with Billy issuing a threat to check the story out. Penny's work is done and she ecstatically boards the bus.
Finally, Julia had been on the way to tell her ex-boyfriend that she loved him and intended to accept his proposal in marriage when the bus crashed. Trying to outrun the ghost bus that has come for her, Thomas tries to buy her a little time by taking her in his sports car to the last-known location of the man, a lonely farm out in the middle of nowhere. Leaving the bus far behind, she gets out of the car, takes control of Thomas' hand when they arrive and writes a letter on the hood of the car to give to her fiancée under the guise that he found it.
However, when Thomas knocks on the door, the man who presently lives there reveals that her boyfriend, worn down by life, died a lonely man seven years ago, and Julia and Thomas are stunned at the unfairness of it all. The bus appears behind them, and a very irate Hal demands that Julia boards the bus immediately as punishment for trying to ditch him earlier. Trying to buy her even more time, Thomas pitches a fit about Hal's insensitivity to the situation, but he is adamant that Julia board the bus at once.
It suddenly dawns on her that coming all the way out here was not meant for her to tie up loose ends with her onetime fiance as she'd thought, but to show Thomas that he shouldn't squander his relationship with Anne as she had done with John, and makes him promise to go to her and explain himself.
Hal is pleased with this explanation, and Julia and Thomas then get ready to say their good-byes. In an homage to an exchange between the Lion and Dorothy in the closing scenes of Wizard of Oz (1939 film) Julia is wistful because she, like the other ghosts, had helped watch over him as her own child. As she said to him when he was 7 years old before she went invisible, her only wish was that she could give him a great big hug. After hearing her, Hal looks up to the sky, and suddenly Julia becomes solid and is able to hug Thomas. The bus driver thanks God and takes Julia away as she waves goodbye to Thomas.
Thomas then meets up with Anne in the gardens and explains to her how four people he loved very much left his life as a little kid, which had left him devastated. Because of this he tells her, he was afraid to love anyone else. But he also tells her that these people came back several years later and explained themselves, healing a great deal of not only their own pain but Thomas' as well in the process. He then explains his true feelings for Anne, they reconcile and kiss and presumably begin a happy life together. The final shot shows the clear night sky as the four souls turn into stars and move on into heaven.
- Robert Downey, Jr. — Thomas Reilly
- Charles Grodin — Harrison Winslow
- Alfre Woodard — Penny Washington
- Kyra Sedgwick — Julia
- Tom Sizemore — Milo Peck
- David Paymer — Hal the Bus Driver
- Elisabeth Shue — Anne
- Bill Calvert — Frank Reilly
- Lisa Lucas — Eva Reilly
- Eric Lloyd - Thomas Reilly (age 7)
- Richard Portnow - Max Marco
- B. B. King - Himself
- Wren T. Brown - Sgt. Wm. Barclay
- Kurtwood Smith - Patterson (uncredited)
- Chloe Webb - Patient in Psychiatric Ward (uncredited)
- Heart and Souls at the Internet Movie Database
- Heart and Souls at Rotten Tomatoes
- Heart and Souls at Box Office Mojo
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