“Soul” Review

WARNING: Contains some spoilers!

Pixar’s Soul hit Disney+ this Christmas Day and has moved people to tears. The animated film follows Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a middle school band teacher who has a passion for jazz, especially playing the piano. He has always wanted to play the piano professionally and finally gets the opportunity when he impresses Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett), a famous jazz musician visiting the Open High Club, and was asked to play the opening act.

Joe is thrilled to finally get the gig of his dreams but then falls into an open manhole on the street. He gets stuck in a coma in real life but his soul goes to the Great Beyond. The Great Beyond is considered life after someone has died. Joe realizes this and sprints in the opposite direction and ends up falling into the black space, where he lands in the Great Before. The Great Before is the land where souls develop their characteristics, personalities, and interests before they go to Earth. 

Joe needs to get back to Earth before nightfall to make it on time for his concert, so he takes on the job of mentoring a soul named 22 (Tina Fey) who has been a problem for the other mentors. She has yet to find her spark or what she is interested in, and Joe has to help her find it. When the two of them go to Earth, Joe realizes that he is not in his real body and has actually taken the body of the cat and 22 is now in Joe’s body. The two of them go on about the day trying to get Joe to return to his body while 22 finally gets the chance to see what Earth is what living means.

This movie is targeted towards younger children but I feel that any adult or teen who watched this, definitely interpreted a deeper, truer meaning of the movie. The theme that life is not about fulfilling this one purpose, but instead experiencing small, memorable moments and just simply live. 

The director, Peter Docter, and the writers did a marvelous job of trying to convey what life means. The writers made Joe realize that the purpose of life was not to have a spark, but to simply live. 22 dreaded the idea of going to Earth because she had not found her spark yet, but once she got on Earth, she saw how fun it was to just be alive. She found joy in small activities like eating pizza, dancing on the subway, and holding meaningful conversations. Joe had gotten so caught up in trying to chase that one moment to play jazz piano on a professional stage that when he finally got the opportunity, he did not feel that relieved afterward. Many of us do this in real life. We chase the one goal we have had since we were children and ignore everything and everyone, and by doing this we miss all the things we could have done.