Soul was released by Disney and Pixar on Disney + on Christmas Day 2020. Soul is about Joe Gardner, a middle school music teacher who gets the opportunity of a lifetime that’ll make all of his dreams come true. However, before Joe is able to live out his dreams, he suddenly dies. Rather than accept his fate, his soul goes on a wild ride in an attempt to get back to his body on Earth. Along the way, he befriends other souls while learning about who he is as a person and about life itself.
This film is extremely deep even though it’s meant for kids. It simplifies the most philosophical concepts while making it entertaining as well. It boils down to the meaning of life, the reason why we’re put on this Earth to live. Before descending to Earth, each soul must discover their “spark,” which is something that drives them or something they’re passionate about. Most people, like Joe Gardener, believe that their spark in life is their purpose for living.
After going on a whole body-switching adventure, Joe learns that the true meaning in life is to appreciate the smaller moments that make us happy, like admiring nature, eating a delicious cheese pizza, or listening to music. It’s important to have passions and sparks in life, but those things are not our “sole” reason for being on this Earth. The overall message of the movie is very heartwarming and an extremely important lesson for kids to learn.
Soul reminded me of a lot of other movies and television shows including Freaky Friday (because of the body-switching), Inside Out (because of 22’s meltdown), The Good Place (because of the similar explanations of what happens to souls once they’ve left their earthly bodies), and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (22 REALLY reminded me of Bloo, the Jerrys reminded me of Wilt, and of course Terry reminded me of Mr. Herriman). I don’t like that it reminds me of other things that I’ve already seen, so it’s very predictable. I know, It’s a kid’s movie and all, but usually, I’m deeply touched by Pixar films, and since I knew where this one was heading, it doesn’t hit me as much as some of the other movies the company has produced.
There are a few things that are confusing about this film. Firstly, I thought Mr. Mittens, the cat, had died once Joe’s soul entered its body. Towards the end of the film, when Joe returns to his body, the cat manages to come back to life?? I was also curious about Moonwind and his whole schpeel. How does he manage to get to “The Great Before” world, and where did he get his cool pirate ship?! Lastly, at the end when Joe returns to “The Great Before” to help 22, what happened to his body on Earth? Honestly, I think my confusion and overthinking might’ve ruined the film for me.
On the plus side, the animation design in this film is very unique in comparison to Pixar’s other films. I loved all of the details put into the human characters and life in New York City. The souls are adorable blue little blobs, and I enjoyed the 2-dimensional design of all the Jerrys and Terry. However, I was a little disappointed that Joe spent most of the movie as a cat. 22 must come to Earth to learn how to live, but I feel like the story became about her and less about Joe.
I was expecting to be deep in my feelings for this movie, but I wasn’t. It seemed to hit home for a lot of other people though, so maybe it’s just me. It’s not a bad movie at all, but I was just expecting to feel more. Rating: 8/10.