Soul: Film Review

Soul

I hold Pixar films in really high regard so I have the greatest of expectations for each new offering and while Soul is good, it doesn’t reach the lofty heights of the company’s best work.

Soul follows middle school music teacher Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), who has long dreamed of having a career as a jazz musician. One day, he is hired to become the pianist in a band with Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett), but hours before the break he has been longing for, Joe has an accident and his soul is separated from his body. He wakes up on a conveyor belt heading to The Great Beyond, but he manages to escape and ends up in The Great Before, where souls develop their personalities and traits before being sent to Earth. He must work with souls in training, such as 22 (Tina Fey), in order to get back to his body.

I have to applaud Pete Docter and his team for taking on big themes such as life and death and what comes before and after them and presenting them visually in a way children will want to watch and creating an entertaining journey that they will enjoy and understand, even if the big concepts go over their heads. I really respected the message about appreciating life, a person’s purpose, and what gives them their spark as well as the ambition the team had for this movie – but it didn’t fully work for me. I can’t place why but at the end, I felt deflated because I was expecting more; for it to hit me in the feels or give me some sort of epiphany, but that didn’t happen. My expectations for Pixar films are just so damn high!

The voice cast is incredible. Foxx was the perfect choice for Joe and he brings so much energy and enthusiasm to the part. Fey was also excellent as 22, who is reluctant to find her spark and go to Earth, and they make a great comedy pairing. I also enjoyed Phylicia Rashad as Joe’s no-nonsense mother Libba, Bassett as the difficult to impress Dorothea, and Rachel House as Terry, a soul counter in The Great Beyond. I was surprised but thrilled to hear the voices of Graham Norton and Richard Ayoade in this, with Norton being a particular delight.

Although this isn’t one of the best Pixar films and the message might be lost on young viewers, they can still enjoy the colourful visuals, the body-swap comedy element, and all the cat jokes. There’s plenty of humour in here to amuse both kids and adults, but grown-ups may appreciate what it’s saying too.

Available on Disney+ for no extra fee on Christmas Day

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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