From Mr Pixar himself, Pete Docter, comes their latest exploration of humanism with Soul. Very much continuing the themes, and some of the look of, Inside Out, which Docter also wrote and directed, Soul is the story of just that, your soul.
Jamie Foxx (“Baby Driver”, “Project Power”) is Joe, a jazz pianist who has just got the news he’s been given a full-time position as a music teacher at a local school. This is very much not the job Joe wants, Joe wants to be a jazz musician, playing with the best, playing to adoring crowds.
His time arrives (finally in his eyes) when a former pupil, now drummer, invites him to audition for a saxophonist legend. Joe is so happy about this; he isn’t paying attention to where he’s going and falls down an open manhole cover.
When he comes to, Joe is on a long travellator heading towards a large white light in the middle of space. Joe refuses to accept the inevitable and plunges into the abyss below which brings him to the ‘before’ where he meets Jerry, Alice Braga (“Elysium”, “Kill Me Three Times”), Jerry, Richard Ayoade (“Early Man”, “Paddington 2”), oh and Jerry, Wes Studi (“Heat”, “The Last Of The Mohicans”).
‘Jerry’ is a form, a sort of line drawing, that, well, you should watch, anyway, Joe is mistaken for a mentor, someone who will help the souls who are about to head to earth to become people.
Joe, still bluffing his way through things, is mistaken for a psychiatrist, and is given soul number 22, Tina Fey (“Saturday Night Live (TV)”, “30 Rock (TV)”), to counsel. 22 has been in this limbo state for quite some time, not wanting to go to earth, having had counsellors including Ghandi and Abraham Lincoln, none of whom have been able to find her the final ‘mark’ she needs to go to earth, which is just fine by her.
Joe does his best to find that spark, on the basis that when she gets the final mark and is given her pass she’ll pass it on to him. Before that though, 22 takes Joe to meet Moonwind, Graham Norton, a hippy who can help some reconnect with their body.
In an unfortunate mix-up, both Joe and 22 plummet to Earth with not quite the consequences either were hoping for. Now, Joe must find a way back into himself as 22 begins to learn what it really means to be on earth.
Soul is, as you would expect from a Pixar film, a truly outstanding looking film. There are moments when it looks like a live-action movie, it’s remarkable.
The story is full of beautiful moments, funny moments, cheeky moments and some interesting concepts about life and death. It’s also as colourful as previous Pixar films and in all that regards it is nothing less than you would expect.
If there’s a criticism, it’s that usually when I watch a Pixar film, I always feel like they are new, something that hasn’t been seen before.
Soul, to me at least, doesn’t feel like that. The colours and look and feel are very much akin to Inside Out and the very start has moments of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Neither of which are bad things per-say, just surprising to see a Pixar film not be leading from the front I guess.
Despite that, or maybe because of, Soul is a wonderful and sweet movie. Catch it on Disney+ from Christmas day 2020.