review by Bobby Blakey
Disney Pixar once had yet another hit with their feature Onward, but that’s not slowing them down. Their latest film Soul was yet another that got hit by the pandemic so Disney pushed it released exclusively on Disney +. The film features the voice talents of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, Ahmir Questlove Thompson, and Daveed Diggs with Up and Inside Out director Pete Doctor and co-director Kemp Powers at the helm. Could this film bring yet another homerun to the Pixar legacy or will it fail to hit the right notes?
Soul follows Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22, who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.
This is one of the first films from them in sometime that really didn’t suck me in through the trailers, but I still had high hopes for it and was not disappointed. The real world elements of the film features the usual detailed brilliance Pixar always delivers, but for me it really shines in the other place. Here the styles are a lot more simplistic but so vibrant and awesome in execution. The simplicity of it all is perfect for being in the various stages of life and death where it is all about the souls and their journey more than what’s around them.
This all sets up a perfect blend of the two worlds and a story that might seem simple on its surface, but packs the always expected punch. There are multi-layers with all the characters involved that intertwine to perfection creating almost a sense of music in execution like only Pixar can. They are known for having those heart pulling strings in their films and this one is no different. I
didn’t find it forced like some of the past entries and instead evolves in a way that will affect every viewer differently.
The voice acting is great as always with Foxx really leading the charge and bringing the depth and passion to the character it needs for the love of music and his journey. Tina Fey brings a similar performance from a different place that is just as moving and them together is magic. This is a darker film in that it is dealing with death and loss without ever being too heavy for the younger audiences and I applaud Disney and Pixar for willing to go there.
This is another that would have no doubt made a killing at the box office and sucks it won’t get that exposure like past releases, but glad they gave the gift to audiences to check it out safe and at home now on Disney +.
In addition I can only assume that the latest Pixar short that debuted today Burrow would have shown before Soul, so be sure to check out this cute little short before watching Soul to keep the usual film experience intact.