When Pixar released Inside Out, it had arguably its greatest triumph from a creative standpoint, so when that film’s director Pete Docter announced he was directing a movie about the afterlife called Soul, it was a can’t-miss movie.
Sadly, fans will not get a chance to see the beauty of Soul on the big screen because the pandemic caused Disney to pull the movie from its theatrical release on Thanksgiving and stick it on Disney+.
This is better than nothing because, once again, the story is brilliant and one that everyone needs to see, but this movie was made to be seen on the big theatrical screens in all its brilliance. Unless Disney offers it up at a future date, this is a huge loss for fans.
Joe Gardner is a middle-school music teacher. He teaches kids band and, as seen in the start, almost none of them care. Half of them are bad at what they do, and others don’t even remember to bring their instruments.
When one little girl in class proves to be a prodigy, the other kids laugh at her, and she is too ashamed to continue.
It is all very sad and made even worse when Joe gets the good news that the school will offer him a full-time position, so he can finally have a steady paycheck and benefits.
This is great news, and his mom is happy, but Joe wants to be a full-time musician, something his mother clearly points out that he has failed to make a living at for years. His dad was also a musician, and she knows how hard it is, but Joe isn’t willing to give up his dream.
When he finally sees a way to make that dream come true and play with a very popular jazz musician, he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. As he heads home to get ready, he falls through an open manhole and finds himself on the stairway to the afterlife.
But he isn’t going to give up, jumps off the side, and ends up in a giant field with small beings, all unborn souls waiting to get sent to Earth to be born and live life. Joe then pretends to be a new mentor who can help these souls achieve all the goals needed to head to Earth.
However, he meets a soul named 22 that has never been able to find that last merit badge, the one that shows them the light in their lives. He figures it could be music, but she doesn’t seem to care about anything.
It is interesting to think about this plot.
In Inside Out, the babies are born and start developing their memories and likes and dislikes. These children create their own islands where they discover their likes and dislikes, and they experience joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and more as they build their lives.
In Soul, the souls need to find that one thing that gives them a spark, and that is where Joe, who has lived into at least middle age, still hasn’t gotten it.
The entire theme of Soul is asking what it is that gives you joy. Is it a love of music. Is it losing yourself in the act of playing music, where your mind and soul goes somewhere completely off this world? Or is it something else about the music that gives you joy? Until Joe can figure out what true happiness is, can he ever help a soul like 22 who has never experienced life understand it?
The story in Soul doesn’t quite reach the level of Inside Out. Still, it is right up there with Pixar movies like Up and Wall-E when it comes to originality and delivering a lesson without preaching or talking down to the audience.
Pixar is always at its best when trying to say something and doing it in a manner that no one could have expected. Soul is another notch in its belt.
It is also important to note that this movie is beautifully animated. It is terribly tragic that so many people will only see this on a medium-sized TV screen, or even worse on a computer or tablet. The work that went into making this movie was impressive, and it looks amazing.
I really hope that a lot of people who set out to see this have a big TV because this movie deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible.
Once again, Pixar has outdone itself and considering Pete Docter made it (Inside Out, Monsters, Inc, Up), it is no surprise. I also have to give credit to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the soundtrack and Jon Batiste for the jazz songs in the movie.
Soul is a huge treat for anyone who watches it this holiday season.
Soul is currently streaming on Disney+.