Disney and Pixar’s Soul is a dazzling and ambitious journey into the workings of the human condition. Like the jazz music it emulates, the movie jives to its own tune, and effuses a level of wisdom unlike any previous Disney offering.
Writer-director Pete Docter and fellow screenwriter Kemp Powers deserve immense praise for taking the most core philosophical concept known to man, the meaning of one’s life, and structuring a story that is accessible to all ages, while also building a mythology in itself to explain the intricacies of our personalities and passions.
What Makes Soul Tick
Soul success lies in how well the metaphysical plane of The Great Beyond and the Earth bound realities of Joe Gardner’s New York City complement each other. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ dynamic score invigorates every scene, as Joe’s passion for jazz is the film’s lifebood. The neighborhoods, the barber shops, the music venues are all essential to how the audience sees life’s beauty through Joe’s eyes.
Jamie Foxx (Joe Gardner) and Tina Fey (22) prove to be a dynamic pairing, as Foxx captures Joe’s frantic determination as a struggling artist looking for once last chance. Fey delivers quips with deft handed precision, but there is an innocence to her portrayal as the lost soul 22. The movie should be a reminder to all the lost souls out there, especially after such a tumultuous year as 2020, that every second matters and putting yourself out there is an invitation for positive change and self growth.
Pixar’s newest release has the loftiest, most heavenly of ambitions. Being fully transparent, it doesn’t check every single box. I’ve come to expect an emotional gut punch from my Pixar affairs. Soul provides more of an internal awakening, an ending that is more open ended, than something finite that may trigger a more heart tugging response.
Soul may not be Pixar’s definitive best, but it is certainly their greatest feat. It offers us, in a time of such upheaval and uncertainty, assurance that life is adaptive and not for one second predetermined. Like jazz, it is a wholly unique melodic sequence, a tune that can change on the fly and allows us to grow with it. One’s life comes with its successes and failures, ups and downs, but the most important thing Soul reminds us is that we never stop living, and our tune keeps on playing, despite it all.
KEEP READING: EXCLUSIVE SOUL FEATURETTE ABOUT JAMIE FOXX’S JOE GARDNER