Tom Sizemore’s Ghost

Ron Underwood was a hot property coming off Tremors and City Slickers when Universal handed him Heart and Souls, a messy effects-driven comedy about four spirits guiding a man through life. A young Robert Downey Jr. is surrounded by Charles Grodin, Kyra Sedgwick, Alfre Woodward, and the always unique Tom Sizemore. What should have been a hit with an all-star cast disappeared at the box office, a mess of different genres clumsily smashed together. Despite a few charms, Heart and Souls falls short in a couple critical areas.

Four strangers on a bus, played by Charles Grodin, Tom Sizemore, Kyra Sedgwick, and Alfre Woodward, die together in a bad accident. Nearby at that exact moment, Thomas Reilly is born in the backseat of a car and those four strangers’ restless spirits are permanently tied with him at the hip. The first act is a cute introduction of the young Thomas talking with the spirits as we learn about his unique upbringing. The four spirits take Thomas under their wing, treating him like he’s their own child.

The basic premise in Heart and Souls is enjoyable though badly needs more refinement

Heart and Souls skips ahead nearly 30 years as Thomas (Robert Downey Jr.) is now a high-powered executive dating Elisabeth Shue. Having stopped talking to him many years ago, the four ghosts learn they can only move on in the afterlife if they use Thomas to finish their unresolved business.

It’s a feel-good comedy mixing laughs with heart and a surprising amount of physical slapstick. The effects-driven Hollywood comedy bites off more than it can chew managing screen time and character development for each ghost. Heart and Souls’ screenplay is packed with too many characters despite likable performances from the headliners. Tom Sizemore kind of steals the show as a loudmouth burglar with a big personality.

They could have completely cut Charles Grodin’s character and not missed a thing. You can tell the studio badly forced the romantic sub-plot with Elisabeth Shue’s character. It’s a superfluous romance which feels like a complete afterthought in the screenplay. Coming on the heels of box office smashes like Ghost, studio executives were trying to force a round peg into a square hole.

Shue displays absolutely zero chemistry with Robert Downey Jr., including one of the most awkward finale kisses I’ve ever seen between two Hollywood stars. They should have cast a different actress and reworked the role into playing a bigger part with the four spirits.

The basic premise in Heart and Souls is enjoyable though badly needs more refinement. The ensemble cast is mostly fun and their different energies vibe well together. What I don’t like is the uneven execution and sloppy writing, which should have cut four ghosts down to two in the interests of a satisfying two-hour commercial flick.

Video

Mill Creek licenses Heart and Souls from Universal Studios and they are almost certainly using the same transfer struck for Universal’s own 2019 Blu-ray. They may even share the same video encode, though that is less certain. The picture quality takes a big leap in clarity and definition on Blu-ray, reflecting a modern scan with minimal post-processing.

The 1993 comedy is presented in a faithful 2.39:1 aspect ratio with film-like fidelity. It’s likely struck from a 2K transfer of the original camera negative, though nothing appears restored in the satisfactory-looking elements. A new color correction dials up the saturation and contrast a bit but flesh-tones are fair, not to mention healthy black levels.

The PG-13 main feature runs 103 minutes on a BD-50, given a serviceable AVC encode. Grain reproduction is average. A touch of incidental wear is manifest in the heavier optical effect shots.

What we get is a steady transfer of decent Hollywood cinematography from the 1990s. Heart and Souls doesn’t receive absolute top-shelf treatment but the box office flop is served with care.

Audio

Solid, enjoyable 5.1 DTS-HD MA aids composer Marc Shaiman’s engaging score. There’s a short musical number featuring the cast and even a B.B. King cameo which takes bigger advantage of a wider soundstage. This isn’t an adventurous, rowdy mix but dialogue reproduction is effortless. There’s enough of a surround presence in a few more active moments with nice bottom and full extension.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font partially outside the scope presentation.

Extras

Mill Creek issues Heart and Souls as part of their retro VHS slipcover collection line of Blu-rays. The available slipcover nicely reproduces the original cover art.

What’s strange about this Blu-ray is Universal themselves issued Heart and Souls in 2019, albeit a disc with no special features. Mill Creek actually improves upon that state of affairs by including three completely new special features, including an extended making-of documentary with director Ron Underwood. Rarely does a Mill Creek disc improve upon the original studio release but this is a big exception.

Mill Creek’s BD is marked as Region A.

Driven By Destiny: Making Heart and Souls (37:15 in HD) – Director Ron Underwood expounds at length on the casting process and other topics in this engaging, interview-driven documentary.

Writing Heart and Souls (12:07 in HD) – Co-writer S.S. Wilson (one of four men credited with the screenplay) discusses the film’s development.

Designing Heart and Souls (02:58 in HD) – Production designer John Muto recalls tidbits about the living room and his general approach towards the film.

Heart and Souls Trailer (02:18 in SD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Heart and Souls
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All-star ensemble comedy starring a young Robert Downey Jr. needs fewer ghosts and a better romance

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 30 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:


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