Soul follows Joe Gardener (Jaime Foxx), a band teacher, who is finally getting the big gig he has been waiting for. But later that day, Joe gets into an accident and dies. His soul travels to the Great Beyond, but he escapes to the Great Before as he is not ready to die. He teams up with another soul, named 22 (Tina Fey), in order to try to get back to his life on Earth.
Pixar does it again. Soul is a high-concept film that deals with complicated questions about life and death, but breaks it down in an inventive and original way that can be enjoyed by the whole family. I do think that adults, will enjoy the movie more than kids though, since they are more aware of the themes that are tackled in the film.
Soul is an existential movie as Tina Fey’s 22 does not see the purpose of life. She’s content with staying in the Great Before and has been mentored by high profile figures in history, such as Mother Teresa and Abraham Lincoln, to no avail. And it’s not until Joe and 22 end up in body swap situation that 22 realizes that life is actually worth living, but she’s scared of being a failure after her old mentors drilled their frustration onto her.
I really respected Joe’s journey in the film as he is determined to get back to his life on Earth so he can get his big break. For Joe, it felt to him like life was barely peaking for him and he wanted to experience the aftermath of that after teaching for so long. Anyone that is chasing their dream job can relate to him and they might also realize that their dream job is not really what they wanted it to be.
Soul is most like Inside Out, but I would still contend that Inside Out is slightly better than Soul. Director, Pete Doctor, is someone who doesn’t miss and he delivered again here. In his previous films, he explored the concept of parenthood in Monsters Inc, grief and adventure in Up, the importance of emotions in Inside Out, and the intricacies of life in Soul.
The voicework was good also, but the standout voice to me was Rachel House’s Terry, who is the accountant for the Great Beyond, and is determined to catch Joe to set the count right again. Rachel House is someone who regularly stars in Taika Waititi’s films and is always a comedic powerhouse when I see her.
Overall, Soul will remind you to take a breathe and enjoy life. Not everything works out the way you want or except it to and that’s ok. The animation in the film is beautiful. I felt like the amount of detail almost rivaled Toy Story 4. The film has plenty of funny and thoughtful moments, and may also make you cry.
I give Soul an A.