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Heart and Souls

Heart and Souls title card

Year - 1993
Studio - Universal Pictures
Stars - Robert Downey Jr., Charles Grodin, Alfre Woodard, Kyra Sedgwick, Tom Sizemore, David Paymer, Elisabeth Shue
Director - Ron Underwood
Writing Credits - Gregory Hansen (short film, screen story)
Music - Marc Shaiman


Four unrelated people die in a San Francisco bus crash, when their driver (David Paymer) is distracted by an amorous couple in a a car. They are Harrison Winslow (Charles Grodin), an aspiring opera singer with severe stage fright, Penny Washington (Alfre Woodard), a stressed mother of three young children, Milo Peck (Tom Sizemore), a petty thief with a conscience, and Julia (Kyra Sedgwick), who loves her boyfriend but can't make a commitment.

Their souls emerge from the wreckage and float away together, entering the body of a baby just being born in a nearby car, the parents unable to get to the hospital in time.

Heart and Souls poster

As the child, Thomas Reilly (Eric Lloyd) grows, the four are his constant companions, visible only to him. But they realize that Thomas is perceived by others as different, if not mentally ill, and they agree they must go invisible so that he can grow up more normally. Young Thomas is very distressed at their leaving and develops a fear of close relationships as he matures to adulthood. Thomas (now played by Robert Downey, Jr.) is a ruthless bankruptcy attorney, dating Anne (Elisabeth Shue). Although she loves him, she is frustrated in his inability to commit.

A mysterious green bus materializes on the street where Thomas and his now invisible mentors are gathered. The driver announces that it is time for the departed souls to leave. To their confusion, he explains that they've had time to perform an act that would "right their lives." They argue that this requirement was never communicated to them and, feeling guilt over the fact that he was the driver who caused their deaths in the first place, he agrees to give them more time.

The four souls, knowing that they themselves cannot perform physical acts, again become visible to Thomas and explain that they will use his physical body to accomplish their ends. This includes Milo Peck entering Thomas's body and returning, to their owner, some valuable stamps he had stolen just before his death, and Harrison Winslow overcoming his performance stage fright by singing the national anthem at a B. B. King concert. Thomas helps Penny find her children who had been adopted out after her death. Julia realizes that, although her jilted boyfriend has died, she is actually there to help Thomas make a commitment to love.

As each of their life purposes are fulfilled, the heavenly bus arrives with the impatient driver ready to take them above.

Thomas presents Anne with keys to his apartment.

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