Still hoping to catch his big break, a middle-aged jazz musician will find himself falling, quite literally, out of his body just as it seems within reach. While he searches for a way back, he’ll discover what his true purpose on earth is. Starring Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, Soul is an emotional story exploring the meaning of life and living – and it’s certainly a valuable lesson we all need now.
Joe (Foxx) is a passionate pianist with dreams of a life playing jazz. Though, now in his older years, he’s taken to teaching at a public New York school and offering private music lessons. When he is offered a permanent job at the school, his mother (Phylicia Rashad) encourages him to leave behind his starry-eyed hopes and take the security offered as a teacher. However, Joe cannot turn his back on his passion.
As fate would have it, he may have found his big break when he’s given an audition for a jazz quartet, fronted by the admired Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett). After dazzling her with his talents, he’s landed the gig and expected back that evening. However, on his way home, distracted by excitement, he falls into a manhole and finds himself on the other side.
As he panics, attempting to stay away from the end, called the “Great Beyond”, he winds up in the “Great Before”, where souls find their identities before going earth side. There he meets 22 (Fey), a spunky soul with no desire to actually live. As Joe tries to find his way back into his body, and make it in time for his first gig with Dorothea, he and his new soul pal will unknowingly be on a journey to discover the true meaning of life.
A fairly ambitious story, Disney and Pixar’s Soul presents another incredibly moving tale, one that the entire family can enjoy. It takes the viewer on a magical journey with its stunning visuals, beautiful message, and delightful cast. The lessons learned from the film will vary by viewer, but I found great comfort in it highlighting the little things in life that we should find joy in; and how goals or hopes for the future, shouldn’t prevent someone from truly living in the “now”.
You can expect mesmerizing animation that feels next level, giving such incredible life to the story and characters. The attention to every fine detail; the nick on Joe’s classroom piano, to the light refracting off brass instruments. I honestly cannot do its beauty justice in words. It’s simply something of a breathtaking feat from the Pixar animators and sure to be recognized during awards season.
With its somewhat heavy subject matter, I appreciated the very abstract and agnostic approach to discussing the after and before life. The film explores some themes that are typically based in religion. But that aspect is completely removed from the narrative, which I think offers a universal idea that felt very inclusive. It also shies away from any dark elements, offering a very family-friendly look into the complex breakdown of human consciousness, and I could see it being a great tool to teach children about existence and death. I’ve always admired Pixar’s ability to entertain and inspire people of all ages, and this film is no exception.
Co-directed and co-written by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers, with Mike Jones writing as well, the film is the perfect blend of heart and humor. I think its core message will really resonate with viewers, especially given the current year we’ve had. With Foxx’s stellar performance and perfectly captured visuals, the film left me completely emotional at the final scene. Although Soul would have undoubtedly been a major box office success, I’m somewhat happy the film will be available for families to enjoy in their homes, offering a little spark of joy.
Soul premieres, at no extra charge, to Disney+ subscribers on December 25th