Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Chris Release date: August 13, 1993 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
While sitting in the darkened theater, descriptive words like sweet, funny and heartwarming, kept popping into my head, and this film encompasses them all.
It opens in 1959 when four strangers die in a bus accident. Their spirits are drawn to Thomas Riley, a baby born at the same time as the accident, and they stick with him as he grows up.
The spirits are charming souls with different personalities and backgrounds. Milo (Tom Sizemore) was a hip leather-jacketed petty thief, whose last job was stealing a young boy's valuable stamp collection, Penny (Alfre Woodard) was a black single mother of three, Julia (Kyra Sedgwick) was a waitress who put off her boyfriend's proposal because of her fear of commitment, and Harrison (Charles Grodin) was a meek librarian with aspirations of being a singer.
Since only Thomas can see or hear his friends, his parents worry that he's strange. When Thomas is seven years old, and his teacher suggests psychiatric help, the spirits decide they had better disappear and watch over Thomas secretly.
They stay that way until Thomas is grown (adult Thomas is played by the rubbery, expressive Robert Downey, Jr.) and they find out that it's time for them to go to Heaven. However, it's discovered that somebody up there goofed by not telling these lost souls that while they were onEarth, they were supposed to resolve loose strings that were left at the time of their deaths and they're given a little while longer to make things right.
To accomplish this, they have to enter Thomas' body, and he's not always a willing participant. This sets up some funny visuals with the spirits slithering into Thomas at the most inopportune times. Thomas can take on the characteristics of each; he's cool and hip when he's Milo, sexy and feminine when he's Julia, and sassy and soft when he's Penny. The special effects are terrific and Downey, Jr. is a riot as he changes from one to another in quick succession during a very funny boardroom scene. The best part of the film comes when Harrison's spirit enters Thomas' body and he belts out the National Anthem at a B.B. King concert.
This delightful comedy, directed by Ron Underwood (City Slicker) is special because of each actor who brings a terrific character to life. They're funny, bittersweet, and lovable. It's a clever fantasy that'll make you wish you had a Guardian Angel all your own.
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