Friday, December 25, 2020


Pixar tackles the meaning of life in Soul. Jamie Foxx stars as Joe, a lifelong struggling musician who dies on the very day he earns his big break. Refusing to walk into the Great Beyond, Joe finds himself trapped in the Great Before where young souls are prepared prior to their journey to Earth. Joe's fate will depend on helping a troubled soul (Tina Fey) find her one true thing.

Soul marks both Pixar's first African American lead character and its director in Pete Docter (who also worked on much of the film's development and screenplay). It's a fun film, which will remind you of a number of body-switching comedies once Joe and 22 (Fey) make it back to Earth (many of those developed by Disney). The film also confirms that beaurcracy doesn't end at death and Joe finds an entire new world to explore (and escape) if he wants to get home and claim his big break (while also teaching 22 about life).

Despite dealing with life and death, Soul lacks the emotional weight of previous Pixar films such as Up or Toy Story 3 due to how goofy much of the film becomes after Joe's death.

Following the Disney template, the story unfolds much as you would expect as Joe discovers the meaning of life (and specifically his life) may not be what he thinks (although won't in any way surprise the audience). While the set-up offers only one obvious conclusion, Joe's journey with 22 is one worth taking as the trip becomes far from linear teaching 22 about a life she was afraid to live and Joe about looking at life as more than just his pursuit of music. The film is beautiful to look at both in the designs of the Great Before and the African American neighborhoods of Joe's life. And if the ambitious, quirky film can't quite deliver on its big questions of life, the universe, and everything, it can still be savored for the joy and insight it discovers along the way of Joe struggling to capture his dream.

No comments: