Pixar is the brains behind many film classics such as Toy Story, The Incredibles and they have now gained yet another classic to add to their franchise. Pixar’s latest release Soul was a great but emotional watch. The award-winning animation skipped the cinemas and was released by Disney+ on Christmas Day last year, becoming the first Pixar movie to debut exclusively on the streaming service.
Soul is Pixar’s first animated film to feature an African American lead character. The film hosts the voices of a stellar cast including Jamie Foxx, Graham Norton, Angela Bassett and many more. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Norton’s voice, appearing as Moonwind, a spiritual sign twirler. I’m so used to watching him on the Graham Norton show, it was good to see Graham make his first ‘voiced’ movie debut.
Soul tells the story of 46-year-old Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who isn’t totally happy with his career and is still waiting on his life to begin. He has a lifelong love of jazz music and fortunately gets the chance to play the piano at one of the best jazz clubs in New York City, for the legendary jazz musician and band-leader Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett). Joe cannot believe his luck as he begins his walk through the streets of Queens, New York with an extra spring to his step. But he is on his phone, distracted and not paying any attention to what’s going on around him. Joe’s walking into roads without looking, nearly getting knocked over by several cars on his travels. This scene left me feeling quite nervous and on the edge of my seat as Joe narrowly misses death several times, until he falls into a deep open manhole.
My first thought was “Is Joe dead or alive?” then “Really… he’s actually died so early on in the film?” It turned out though, that he isn’t quite dead. Joe has crossed over to The Great Before – this is a place in the clouds where unborn souls are living – and are assigned different personalities before they go to earth.
The ‘souls’ reminded me of characters in the 90s classic ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost.’ Their mentors are allocated to souls that need a little help to give them the push and encouragement they need to truly live.
Joe, who wants to return to life, is paired with Soul 22 (Tina Fey), who has the total opposite view to him and is adamant that she wants to stay put. But Joe learns that she is a lost soul and tries his best to explain and show her the joys of living. Soul 22 accompanies Joe as they evaluate his life and embark on a wonderful journey. Throughout the film they end up being mentors to one another as Joe reminds Soul 22 of her time on Earth. She eventually goes back to Earth and Joe accompanies her until he heads back in line for the Great Beyond. As he awaits his turn, Joe is stopped by “counsellor” Jerry who works at the Great Beyond and tells him that he gets a second chance at life.
I had to stop myself from blubbering as Soul is most definitely a film that pulls at the heartstrings. It really gets you thinking about life and portrays the Great Before, as many of us have only ever heard of the afterlife and not life before your own human existence. It was a great watch, which can be enjoyed with the whole family. There is one thing that Joe says in the film that will stick with me forever “Life is full of possibilities, you just need to know where to look.”
Shelley & Michelle xx