Shauna Fox heads into the great beyond,
Disney Pixar’s Soul was not at all what I was expecting; within the first ten minutes the film takes a surprising, and kind of dark, turn. The film’s name acts as a play on words: Soul music, because the main character, Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), loves to play jazz; and a person’s Soul, that which makes someone who they are. Both types of soul are important to this film. For a children’s movie this one is quite grown-up and gets really philosophical, tackling questions such as what is a person’s purpose, what do we do with our time on Earth, and what exactly makes us US? These are profound and deep questions that are very heavy for a children’s film.
Now, maybe I’m unjustified in saying that this would go right over children’s heads, but I think not, especially for young kids; not only are the questions it raises too adult for a child to fully comprehend, but some of the images are dark and sinister. While I’m not sure that Soul is a good pick for very young children, for an older audience, those of us who claim to be adults but are really children at heart, Soul is a great movie. It really makes you think and reflect on your own life as you watch Joe view his life and wonder what has he actually done that is worthwhile?
Joe constantly chases after one thing, wanting to perform as a jazz musician, but he never considers if there is more to life than merely chasing the next best thing. Soul makes you want to appreciate the little things, and it does this through the character 22 (Tina Fey). 22 is a being, pre-birth, and when she gets a chance at life on Earth, in Joe’s body, she savours EVERYTHING – food, music, nature, talking to people, a family’s love – and it resonates. I mean, what did we have in for the last year but the little things? Those ‘little things’ became so much more important under the shadow of a global pandemic – time spent with family, getting out of the house for a walk, zoom chats with friends – we, like Joe, can’t take these little things for granted anymore, because the future is uncertain. You see? Soul is deep.
Beyond the philosophical tone of the movie, the animation, for the most part, is good. However, the animation of the characters who don’t belong on Earth, such as the Terry’s, is odd, and somewhat disconcerting; it is very basic, which I’m sure was deliberate, but wasn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing to look at.
I would have liked more of a resolution for 22, to find out what happened to her when she entered Earth as herself, but perhaps we’ll get a sequel?
It is the story, and the message within it, above anything else, that is Soul’s best achievement; like many Disney films, Soul will make you laugh, and make you cry. Its message of appreciating the life we have, and what we have in it, means more after the last year we have endured.
Shauna blogs at scienceoffilm.wordpress.com/
Soul is streaming on Disney+