‘Soul’ a heartfelt story of life and purpose
It’s said that every cloud has a silver lining and COVID-19 has been one unrelentingly dark cloud. It’s wreaked havoc with everything from people’s everyday routine to family vacation plans to concerts, movies and other events. But one small silver lining, and it is very small in the face of everything else that’s going on, is that Disney has released the latest Pixar film, “Soul,” on Disney+, free to stream for all subscribers.
“Soul” tells the story of Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a jazz-obsessed middle school music teacher who lands his dream gig with a reputable jazz quartet. An unfortunate accident leaves Joe’s soul untethered from his body and he stumbles into a role mentoring the troublesome 22 (Tina Fey), who doesn’t want to go to Earth.
Joe is bound and determined to reunite his soul and body so he can make his gig and winds up dragging 22 to Earth with humorous results. As Joe and 22 quest to set things right, they learn all about purpose, what makes life worth living and how those may not necessarily be the same thing.
Pixar’s crew has mastered a formula. Their films hook you, get you laughing and cheering on the protagonist, then hit you with the feels and leave you teary-eyed. “Soul” follows this formula to the letter, to the point where it’s actually a little predictable. It doesn’t ruin the movie by any means, as the story throughs some clever twists that keep you invested. It would just be a little more exciting if you didn’t know where the movie headed by ten minutes in.
The visuals in this flick help keep your attention. From the beautiful natural look of the scenes set on Earth to the surreal, modern-art vistas of the afterlife, “Soul” is fun to look at.
The voice work is also excellent, as usual. Foxx and Fey play off one another really well and hold the movie together. Donnell Rawlings gets some nice moments as Joe’s barber, Dez. Phylicia Rashad also shines in a couple of quick appearances. I kind of wish she would have gotten more screen time.
“Soul” is dramedy that puts more emphasis on the drama than the comedy. Not that it’s an Ingmar Bergman film or anything like that. There are plenty of light moments, just not many that really get you laughing.
And that’s ok. This movie is more about getting the audience to pontificate what is really important in life and whether pursuing those things is getting in the way of enjoying everything else life has to offer. In the end, that’s the whole point of “Soul”: differentiating your purpose in life from whether you’re ready to live or not, and not putting off living because your purpose is unknown or seems unattainable.