The best type of movies that Pixar makes are the ones that are the most meaningful. It is clear that the studio known for making films like Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and The Incredibles know a thing or two about what speaks to people. Sure, their films are kid-friendly, but the thing that makes Pixar the gold standard in animation, besides the beautiful animation that gets better with each entry, but the themes that resonate with the oldest of viewers. Soul is no exception. While it may be as fun as a Pixar film should be, it ranks along the likes of Up, Inside Out, and Coco as one of the studios most emotional, deep, and mature efforts.
Soul is the story of Joe (Voice of Jamie Foxx), an aspiring Jazz musician who gets a gig as a middle school band teacher. While his passion for jazz is strong, his efforts to reach his dreams seem far. It isn’t until he gets the chance to play with musician Dorothea Williams (Voice of Angela Bassett) through a mesmerizing audition that Joe feels closer to his dream. His goal is cut short however, when he falls through a manhole while expressing his excitement. From then on, Joe’s soul is transported in a place inhabited by other souls. What is this place, exactly? Is it Heaven? Is it Hell? That is something Joe tries to figure out, and what gives the movie its existential oomph!
He does, however, end up in a place called “The Great Before”, which is where souls go before they enter a life on Earth, with the help of “mentors”, or souls who have long since passed, in order to get their “spark”. While trying to get back home, Joe meets 22 (Voice of Tina Fey), a stubborn old soul with a passionate dislike for Earth and a tendency to annoy even the most patient of souls. Being that this is a Disney collaboration, of course, our characters will have to work together to get Joe home and maybe learn some lessons along the way.
This may be an animated film, but I feel that I should not reveal any more. The story of Soul is filled with more meaning and philosophy than Socrates could write about. It has something to say about life, death, meaning, and purpose; one could say that the subjects may be too heavy and meaningless for younger viewers, yet Pixar is at their best when they tread deep territory. At its core, Soul is a spiritual journey that takes you into its world, where you may end up touched once all is said and done.