Soul; Pixar Brings Closer to Humanity With This Personal Heartfelt Work of Art. Grade: B+
Soul tells a story about a Band teacher named Joe (Jamie Foxx), whom has earned the opportunity of becoming a full time Band teacher. Joe isn’t satisfied with the offer, as Joe would rather become a Jazz piano player, as Joe dreamed about it his entire life. Joe gets a call to come down to the Jazz lounge and try out for an acclaimed Jazz player Doretha Williams (Angela Bassett). Doretha was extremely impressed with Joe’s piano playing ability, as she offered him the gig. What looked like the beginning of Joe’s life, turned out to be the end of Joe’s life, as he unexpectedly fell from a pot hole. Now Joe’s soul is brought to an unknown place, as Joe will rediscover himself, while help mentor a soul named 22 (Tina Fey), where the soul can find a spark so it can be brought down to earth and live a life of their own.
Before we start this review: I do not support Disney’s decision of restricting this film on Disney Plus. Especially when this film comes from a well respected company like Pixar, whom have gave Disney not only box office success, but also consistent critical acclaimed success for decades as well. Pixar has given us decades of great works of art and the fact Disney would just shelve their recent release, is a major slap in the face to everyone involved with this project. Whether it be the director, writers, voice actors, but more importantly those whom work in the animation field, spending a GREAT amount of time in the character designs and world building... The lack of respect for these artists is flat out disgraceful. It’s ironic this new film is called Soul, yet Disney as a company seems to have struggled immensely in having a soul of their own. Seriously: Pixar Films do not belong on a Television screen, films made from Pixar have earned and deserved their proper placement and that’s the theater. I hope Disney never does this again to any Pixar film in the future, be better Disney for the love of God.
The animation in this film t’was wonderful. The world building in this was out of this world, whether it be Joe’s world, the world heading to the great beyond, the world consisting of the many Souls trying to earn their placement, or the dark world of the lost souls... Each and every world introduced t’was grand. I love the character designs, the attention to detail in them felt very consistent especially within the human characters. The Souls were simple and cute, but I honestly really enjoyed the character designs of the Jerry’s and especially Terry (Rachel House) the Accountant. They felt like simple hand made stick figure drawings, however they have a great amount of charm to them, especially how they interact and move as well, especially Terry the accountant. The Score was pretty great too. I enjoyed the composed Jazz music, the piano music, and surprisingly the techno like music in this too... All blended wonderfully together.
I really enjoyed all the characters in this film, all had delivered their moral purpose in the story and were likable characters. Joe was a pretty good protagonist, as one whom for the most part has a good simple life of being a teacher, but felt unsatisfied due to the fact he wasn’t partaking in a career in which he dreamt of doing his whole life. Sometimes when you’re not doing what you love, you feel as if your whole life is completely meaningless as that’s what Joe was thinking, rewatching his entire life with 22. What makes Joe great is he’s truly human inside and out, going through some highs but going through major lows, whether it be frustration or disappointment. Great usage of character development with Joe, as he’s rediscovering himself as he figures out the moral purpose in life itself.
22 t’was a pretty good supporting character, as she represented all those that have felt like a major misfit regarding their existence, as they can’t seem to find much enjoyment or inspiration regarding being alive. Sometimes when you don’t have a special interest, you seem to feel low as you can’t really understand the point of being alive. 22 has tried just about everything there is regarding special interests and hobbies, however still can never be influence to achieve “The Spark” she’s looking for in order to exist on earth. 22 has a difficultly in understanding the point in living itself, as 22 feels it’s completely pointless. Really enjoyed all the Jerry’s featured in this story, we’re all kind and understanding. Terry the Accountant is honestly one of my favorite characters in this entire film, plays off more as a comedic relief and at one point a antagonist, but that’s only because he’s extremely focused on his work regarding the “Count”. I love the voice acting done with this character by Rachel House, it’s such a fun cool and savvy voice and I adore it ever so much.
Couple flaws I have with Soul. One being the lackadaisical nature of The Souls world, as they seem to be extremely careless of Joe’s whereabouts. There’s also an issue regarding how Joe gets away of being this acclaimed mentor, yet he sounds nothing like this acclaimed mentor at all... Like how did he get away with it?! With Terry the Accountant going down to earth to retrieve Joe and 22, he’s not allowed to be seen even though there is no clarification as to why. Not gonna spoil anything: But how Terry the Accountant attempts to retrieve 22 and Joe feels odd, to the whole “You can’t be seen”, due to the fact there more and than likely are recording cameras involved in the place. Oh also Joe and 22 takes a cab ride, as they make it to their destination, I assume they didn’t pay the cab driver due to the fact Joe’s been stealing food for 22 and the fact she’s in a hospital gown... I know cab drivers and man they get PISSED when you don’t pay them. I feel the film was trying to express that money has absolutely no value in existence, in a deeper sense that’s why money is never brought up, but since we’re shown to reality I would like to see a realistic approach to some degree.
Soul comes from the same team that brought us Inside Out back in 2015, a film in which I absolutely loved. That same team continues to thrive towards greatness, as I absolutely loved Soul too. The story was not only extremely well written, with tons of great messaging, but it also felt very matured. Like the subject matter at hand is very personal, that even adults can see themselves inside the shoes of Joe or even 22. Where one feels their life is completely meaningless due to the fact they aren’t achieving their passion, or feel as they don’t belong in life due to the fact nothing influences their existence.
With Joe’s journey he slowly rediscovers himself, as there is more to life than just one deer passion. As with 22’s journey your existence isn’t valued by just having a connection to something, your value to life can be adjusted by actually having a grasp of life regarding sight, smell, or hearing. I felt the moral message of this film is our existence isn’t based on a passion or being involved with a special interest, our existence is based around enjoying everything life has to offer you including the simple things. We sometimes take this world and life itself for granted, because we’re all so concern on things that shouldn’t get in the way with our happiness. In a way we all are kind of selfish, as we don’t express a great amount of gratitude for the world we live in, as we drain ourselves with thoughts of not being good enough for the world we live in. Truth of the matter is we all do belong here, we just all need to live life to the fullest and truly live out every second of our existence.
The comedy material t’was pretty good, found myself laughing quite a bit in this film, some great bits and jokes for sure. This film does a great job regarding the emotional side, as it almost had myself in tears. It’s been a few long years since an original Pixar film, has floored me from an animation standpoint, story telling standpoint, and emotional standpoint. This is definitely a film very timely indeed during these difficult times, as I really have no question this going to end up winning all the awards for Best Animated Film this upcoming award season.
Overall, Soul t’was a great film. I highly recommend checking this one out on Disney Plus, we’ve got robbed a tremendous theatrical experience with this one... I hope Disney never lets this happen again, I’m still pissed off. -Mitch Smietana