Pixar’s track record of films with beautifully animated worlds continues with Soul, a well-intentioned film with a fine story that is pleasing, though never gripping.
Jamie Foxx voices Joe, a band teacher and aspiring jazz performer who, upon passing, must help an uninterested soul (voiced by Tina Fey) find its passion if Joe ever wants to make it back to his body. With a deep discussion of passion, soul, desire, and living your life to the fullest, Soul certainly does not shy away from weighty topics. However, the film’s messaging becomes a bit jumbled, seemingly implying that dreams are not worth chasing. Akin to throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing which pieces stick, Soul will invigorate your pondering of life, but the film itself will never make its components come together.
Sadly, the film never quite kicks into high gear, instead relying heavily on a goofy body-swap play to march the story forward. Moments expected to be emotional heavyweights come and go with minor impact and the subversive humor common in such films is fleeting. Ultimately, Soul loses any momentum it had built up until climaxing with an unconvincing, rushed enlightenment of our main character. Still, it is always refreshing to see Pixar tackling original concepts and pushing the boundaries of what animated films can stand for. In Soul’s case, however, kids are likely to be bored, with the referenced body-swap hijinks being the lone stretch of the film that will grab their intention.
Soul is a worthwhile watch for the stunningly perfect animation and the exploration of the topics presented, but in terms of Pixar’s incredible library of films, it falls somewhere in the middle.
Soul is now available to stream on Disney+.
Photo from Nerdist