“Soul” Disney Pixar’s newest animated film was released today on Christmas 2020 via Disney+ streaming service.
The movie is about the life of Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a middle school band teacher who has always wanted a shot to pursue his dream as a jazz musician. He earns an opportunity to fill-in as a pianist for a famous local jazz musician, Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett) for a single gig to see if he has what it takes. In his elation, he absentmindedly falls to his death through a manhole. The next thing he knows he is on an escalator toward a big bright light with others who vanish after they reach it.
The story that follows is Joe’s inner journey of discovery about his “spark” and the greater purpose he is living for in his life. The film also stars Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Daveed Diggs and others. The film was directed by Pixar mainstay, Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up and Inside Out) and Kemp Powers. Docter, Powers and Mike Jones contributed to the story and screenplay.
Pixar films while they are not billed as “children” movies take on more and more adult themes and stories. This film kept my almost ten-year-old’s attention throughout but my almost six-year-old was bored at parts and my three-year-old didn’t really follow any of it. There wasn’t any inappropriate material for younger audiences, but I think children ages 8 and up would have an appreciation for the movie.
The constant theme throughout the film was the difference between “spark,” i.e. what you enjoy or what motivates you and your life’s purpose. The film take’s the viewer through the life of a middle-aged Black man living in New York City over his ups and downs, hopes and dreams, failures and insecurities. There was a poignant storyline between Joe and his mom that was a turning point in the movie for me.
Overall, the film was an ambitious undertaking. It had the “feel” of Inside Out, delving into the inner working of man, which was executed good, but not great. I think it will win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film, compared to other animated films I saw this year, but it wasn’t my favorite Pixar film. I think it would grow on me more after another viewing or two.
“Soul” was released on December 25, 2020 for Disney+ users for unlimited views without a premium charge, unlike the “Mulan” limited released earlier this year for a $30 upcharge to subscribers. New users can join Disney+ for $6.99/month or $69.99/year.