Pixar has put out a good track record when it displays stories that connect with us in ways that we can comprehend. Their latest offering Soul does just that with a journey to the Great Beyond that soothes the spirit with a balance of sensibility and apprehension. Soul fits into the brand that Pixar is known for in the beginning, which is to bring human stories down to the essentials by mixing in incredible animation and a beautiful score.
The film is directed by Peter Docter. Soul follows a middle school music teacher Joe (Jamie Foxx), who dreams of making it big as a jazz musician. After getting the gig of a lifetime, he gets ecstatic about the good news, but his celebration gets cut short when he falls down a sewer hole and wakes up in another plane of existence known as The Great Beyond. Avoiding to face death, he ends up escaping into The Great Before, a place where souls get nurtured before they are sent down to Earth. It is where he meets 22 (Tina Fey), a soul who isn’t keen on living on Earth. Together, these two lost souls embark on a journey to find Joe’s body and also discover the meaning of life.
Director Peter Docter has been at the helm of directing Pixar’s most innovative films like Up and Inside Out. With Soul, it fits into what the studio is well known for by touching on a bold concept with a sweet delivery that works on so many levels. Even though the subject of the film is on death, as Joe finds himself on the precipice of the afterlife for him to say that he’s not ready to pass on just yet. The story is genuinely funny and sharp thanks to the talents of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey with their hilarious banter and impeccable timing when it comes to the film’s comedic elements. The setup of the film goes from reality into a trippy version of it with the afterlife, complete with some visuals that mixes melodically with the film’s background score.
The animation is also breathtaking as we get to see New York as we always see the city in perfect detail. The film does an outstanding job showing the busy streets and the overcrowding subways, but also finds the beauty of the city in the most unlikeliest of places. The film also explores the aesthetic world of the Great Beyond and the Great Before with it’s colorful illustrations as well as its characters like the whimsical soul-searching ship captain Moonwind (Graham Norton) or the nefarious soul counter Terry (Rachel House).
The film’s music becomes part of the story, which fits in with Joe’s background in jazz. The sounds of jazz weaves perfectly into the story. Thanks to an award-wnning score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross along with jazz arrangements from Jonathan Baptiste, the film really comes alive and shines through. Just like a music sheet, the movie plays in different acts, but it all comes together rather nicely.
Soul is a film that will certainly bring families together during the holidays as it reflects on how life is meant to be celebrated. We learn the thoughtful lesson in the film that sometimes the best parts of life happen when you are truly living every minute of it. Soul leaves you with a melancholy feeling towards the end that just stays with you after the credits roll. Even though this is available on streaming, it is a film that gives a theater-quality once you watch it thanks to the incredible score and amazing animation that Pixar truly excels at. It is really the kind of movie that we could use after a year we have had and a great way to conclude it with something happy and heartwarming.
Soul is available now to stream on Disney Plus.
Watch the trailer here:
Review Written by TANTV Entertainment Contributor Mufsin Mahbub