Disney’s Soul is a visual delight that will warm everyone’s heart this holiday season. It delivers a thought-provoking story about appreciating the smaller aspects of life even if you aren’t where you want to be. We all want to have a purpose, a reason to live, and Pixar will gladly teach us about it through this film. Soul has enough heart, humor, ambition, and themes to intrigue everyone that watches it.
Pixar is known for its life messages and themes that have been incorporated into several family films over the last two decades. The Toy Story franchise is an example of this trend, and Soul continues it in the best way possible. The subject matter presented may be considered too dark for children, but children should be exposed to this type of film because it might be an inspirational watch for them. Directed and co-written by Pete Docter, Soul stars Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Angela Bassett, Daveed Diggs, Questlove, and Phylicia Rashad. The film follows Joe Gardner (Foxx), a man who isn’t satisfied with the direction of his life. Joe has always wanted to be a hit jazz player, and when the opportunity comes his soul becomes detached from his body.
From there, Joe is transported to the Great Before, a world before life where souls in training are prepared for life on Earth. Joe is partnered with 22 (Fey), a soul who has a very dark view of life and doesn’t think it’s worth living. Mike Jones and Kemp Powers co-wrote this script with Docter, and it’s a solid script for the most part. The character of Joe is presented as this person who has wasted his life, and life can seem like that if you constantly ignore the impacts you have on others. Also, this film raises tough life questions, and what we should focus on while on earth. Joe is convinced his life has been useless since he isn’t doing what he is passionate about, and his passion has distracted him for years. The writers do a great job at allowing Joe’s interactions with 22 to make him see that a passion shouldn’t be your defining purpose in life.
His development overtime is fun to watch, as he learns his purpose in life goes beyond jazz music. The script wonderfully calls out the notion of what being successful means to many. Soul address the idea of achieving fame, or a high profile profession as being successful. However, success can be achieved through other aspects in life such as paving the way for others without knowing it. Having the relationship play out between Joe and 22 sends the film’s message home. While one doesn’t want to live, the other overlooks the life he’s already been successful in. Eventually, they both learn that life isn’t meant to figure out before it starts, and your purpose in life can be much more than attaining a successful career.
Docter will keep emotions high during Soul because it touches on sensitive topics for many. It is a film that reminds everyone to just live life, be patient with yourself, and enjoy the small contributions along the way. Again, an existential crisis being the backdrop for a film discussing the meaning of life might be too much for kids, but it’s something they can learn from. While Joe and 22 might not be as memorable or likable as past Pixar characters, Fey and Foxx’s performances will keep viewers engaged. Their voices assist in the emotions viewers will feel for the two misguided souls, and Foxx brings Joe’s down in the dumps vibe to life amazingly.
Soul isn’t without its flaws, and it might not be talked about years from now like past Disney projects. Still, its message encompasses everything Pixar has touched on in previous films, and it’s one of the better-animated films released this year in terms of filmmaking. A film that seeks to remind people of all ages to not be afraid to live, and to live life to the fullest.