Pixar’s new movie “Soul” offers an intriguing story about exploring the little things in life and features Pixar’s first Black lead. Produced by the same director as the movies “Inside Out” and “Up,” Pete Docter’s “Soul” is a cute, family-friendly film perfect for all ages with its detailed and eye-catching animations.
Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx, is the film’s main protagonist, a middle school music teacher and an aspiring jazz musician. The day he is offered a once in a lifetime gig with an established jazz band, he falls into a sewer and ends up in a coma.
His soul, however, ends up in the Great Beyond, the place souls go when their life has come to an end. Unready for the end of his life, Joe runs away from the great white light and falls into a large abyss, which eventually leads him to the Great Before, the place souls are born before their Earth lives. There, Joe is paired with Soul 22, played by Tina Fey, to help find her “spark,” which helps souls live a happy, fulfilling life on Earth and has trapped her in the Great Beyond for almost all of eternity. Concerned with getting back to Earth and his body, Joe uses Soul 22 to help him return, and his journey causes him to examine what truly makes him happy and how life should be lived.
Set in New York City, the lively animation and sounds perfectly portray the city. From the pizza to the subway to the jazz clubs, the animation and sound teams never seem to fail. The animation is also incredibly detailed and realistic. As Joe plays the piano, his fingers seem almost life-like.
The highly detailed animation is matched by a soundtrack just as lovely and personalized for each scene in the movie. A jazzy part of the soundtrack composed by Jon Batiste plays throughout the New York scene and whenever Joe plays the piano. A more spiritual sounding part of the soundtrack composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross plays throughout the scenes in the Great Beyond and the Great Before. The soundtrack makes viewers feel as if they are with Joe throughout his journey and immerses them into the story.
The film lacks a concrete plot at some parts, including a clear explanation of how Joe transitions from New York to the Great Before and how he dies at the beginning of the movie. However, the visual and auditory elements keep viewers interested through the gaps in the plot.
The movie received backlash from some Black viewers who were disappointed in the heavy focus in the plot of Soul 22, resulting in a white savior complex, and who wished to see a greater development of Black culture in the movie. However, I believe that Joe’s plot was explored deeply, especially during an intimate conversation with his mother about his passion for jazz and how chasing dreams is important.
“Soul” is a great movie for all ages and can be streamed on Disney+. From the amazing visuals to the intricate soundtrack, this Pixar movie is definitely one to watch.