Soul is perhaps the best film to come from the world of Pixar as director/co-writer Pete Docter manages to best his earlier film, Inside Out.
Before you read any further, you should know that there is a post-credits tag scene.
It’s no surprise that Soul is one of the best films to come from 2020. After all, Pete Docter is the same filmmaker behind Oscar winner Inside Out. Going into this year, Inside Out was my #1 Pixar film. I’m going to have to do some sleeping on it but Soul could very well be tied at the top of the Pixar rankings. It’s such a moving film with its lessons about learning how to live. I am at a loss of words following my first viewing (for the Critics Choice Super Awards voting at the start of December).
The gist of the film is that middle school band teacher Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) gets the gig of a lifetime to play at one of New York’s best jazz clubs. There’s just one minor problem: he takes a misstep and ends up at the World Before. His body ends up at a hospital in the meantime. He wants to get back to his body and that’s where the comedy ensues. You see, Joe meets 22 (Tina Fey) while in The World Before. Before I go further, I guess I should explain a little bit about this world. This is where all souls go to get all the lovely quirks, interests, and traits that help to make up their personality. Meanwhile, 22 has never known what it means to live as a human so they don’t understand why Joe wants to be back in his body so badly.
That’s the spoiler-free version in a gist. It’s such a beautiful film and if you’re like me, you will love it. Much like Onward earlier this year, Soul is a film that will tug at your emotions. The two films are close thematically but I think Onward requires more Kleenex boxes.
What is there that one can say about an emotionally moving and beautiful film? This isn’t the first time that Pixar has taken us between the land of the living and another realm. In this instance, The World Before. And while the it’s not the full-fledged Pixar musical that we’re still waiting for, Jon Baptiste makes original jazz contributions while Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross pen the score.
I first penned this review a few weeks ago and here we are, days before Soul gets launched on Disney+. Originally, I saved my review as a draft thinking that I would rewatch again before the release. Right now, a second viewing isn’t expected but you never know. It’s such a beautiful film that I want my second viewing to be without a watermark on the screen. Even as I struggle to get the words written, I don’t know how PIxar will ever be able to top Soul.
DIRECTOR: Pete Docter
CO-DIRECTOR: Kemp Powers
SCREENWRITERS: Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers
CAST: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad, Ahmir-Khalib Thompson a.k.a. Questlove, Angela Bassett, Daveed Diggs