Friday Film Review-"Soul"

Jan 22, 2021

After a crazy, unstable year, there’s still Pixar.    Libby Wadman, with this week’s Friday Film Review, talks about the latest from the famed animation studio.

In true Pixar style, “Soul”, the latest film from this animation powerhouse, is a wonderful way to escape the trials and tribulations of the real world and do a bit of self-reflection at the same time.

“Soul” is the story of Joe Gardner, a frustrated jazz pianist who must work part-time as a middle school band teacher in order to pay the bills. He is so obsessed by his dream of success as a musician that when offered a chance to audition for jazz great Dorothea Williams, he ominously says he would die to be able to do that. As one might expect, in true movie style, Joe does die, which almost takes him to the Great Beyond but he manages to escape instead to the Great Before. In the Great Before, Joe meets 22, a very old new soul who is trying to learn who she is. This is the beginning of their very unusual journey together, which will help the two find out what is truly meaningful in life.

Writer/Director Pete Docter and his cohorts have put together a clever story full of wit and humor that gives the viewer a delightful interpretation of how we get to the Great Beyond and better yet, how we get our start in the Great Before. From pokes at our world, to powerful words of wisdom doled out in easy to swallow doses and given new life by the stunning animation, “Soul” will appeal to even the hardest to please.

Not only is “Soul” worth watching for the story, but for characters as well. “Soul” has an incredible cast of voices including Jamie Foxx as a goodhearted Joe, Tina Fey as a snarky, cynical 22 and Graham Norton as the irrepressible, happy-go-lucky Moonwind. As with the rest of the marvelous cast, the chemistry between the characters is so strong, and the characters so well grounded, one might forget this is an animated film.

For anyone who has enjoyed other Pixar films, you can add to your enjoyment, if you wish, by trying to find the Easter eggs from their previous films. Hint: Be sure to keep your eyes open when they’re in the Hall of Everything. Whether or not you choose to look for any of the references, makes no difference to the enjoyment of this well-crafted film, a true testament to the talent of the writing and directing team.

Despite the basically lighthearted feeling of this film, it does carry a powerful message that, while not new, certainly bears repeating during these unsettled times: slow down and take time to observe the details in the world around you, as these are what will bring you true pleasure and happiness in life.

If you are looking for a momentary escape that will also help you to re-center, watch “Soul”, which is rated PG for thematic elements and some language and is a totally cool 1 hour and 40 minutes in length. It is now streaming on Disney +.

This is Libby Wadman with the Friday Film Review reminding you that film is always fun and fascinating.