Soul Movie Review; Captivating Animation from Pixar
Soul is a thought-provoking animated movie from Pixar about a middle-aged band teacher named Joe (voiced by Jamie Foxx.) He nearly dies and gets stuck in the “Great Before” section of the afterlife. (This is where unborn souls prepare to be assigned a trip to Earth.)He then tries to make his way back to his body.
Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), is a pianist who’s offered a steady full-time job teaching middle-school band. But he is passionate about it and he’s been pursuing a professional music career for many years. On the same day he gets the job offer, Joe unexpectedly lands a life-changing gig with a famous saxophonist (Angela Bassett).
Right after getting this amazing news, Joe falls into a manhole! The next thing he knows, his soul is on an escalator to the “Great Beyond”. But Joe isn’t ready to go: His dream had finally come true! So he fights his way into a colorful, ethereal place where unborn souls reside until they’ve acquired not only the personality traits they’ll have once they’re assigned to a human body. New souls are given mentors (the souls of notable people who’ve died) to help them prepare for their journey as humans.
Joe is interestingly mistaken for a mentor and assigned to “troubled” unborn soul 22 (Tina Fey). Who’s outlasted hundreds of other mentors (from Gandhi and Marie Curie to Mother Theresa and Abraham Lincoln.) Joe, still obsessed with making his upcoming gig, must find a way to inspire 22 and get back to Earth.
Soul is beautiful and creative, with themes of compassion, empathy, and perseverance. But it’s likely to resonate more with adults who’ve wondered about the meaning of life than with little kids. There are also philosophical themes about the meaning of life that might go over kids’ heads.
This is Pixar’s first movie with a Black main character. The all-star voice cast includes Angela Bassett, Daveed Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, and Questlove (plus Tina Fey.) It also features jazz music composed and supervised by Jon Baptiste.
Soul may not solve any existential crises, but it will make audiences appreciate this one “wild and precious life.” Soul is a highly recommended movie from Pixar; especially to adults who might not be otherwise inclined.
Watch the trailer here