By: Collin Frazier
Pixar knocks it out of the park once again
When it comes to the realm of animated films, one of the true titans is Pixar Animation. Even though their formula is rather repetitive: funny side characters, tear jerk moments, etc., the crazy thing is even though I fully expect all of that to happen, they still surprise me on their delivery. And their next surprise was “Soul,” released on Disney+ Christmas Day 2020. While I may be rather late to reviewing this, better late than never, right? Soul puts the viewer in the shoes of Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a part-time music teacher who has dreamed of making it big in the jazz industry. Just as he is about to make his big break, a freak accident lands him at the doorsteps of “The Great Beyond.” Not wanting to have his life end just as it is about to really begin, he attempts to get back to his body with the help of Soul 22, played by Tina Fey.
One of the biggest things that stuck out to me since the first trailer dropped was actually the animation style, and the film only surprised even more on how well designed the film was. Not only did it make the characters look the signature “Pixar” look (if you have seen Pixar films you know exactly what I mean), but it also blended 2D animation with 3D animation, and above all else, the background and all the little details were so well crafted, it was easy to forget that you were watching an animated movie. I have never seen animation so well done until watching “Soul.”
Along with the well-done animation were the performances by both Fey and Foxx. I have never seen them side-by-side in film (although it was voice acting), but I can see them starring in more roles together after this. Their chemistry throughout the film was great and they both gave their characters “soul” (sorry, had to do it once). Not only that, but they were great opposites of each other. While 22 was carefree and only cared about food, Joe was determined to get back to his body. At the same time, these opposite personalities taught the other soul a lesson about life.
Which leads me to easily the best part about this film. The biggest theme in this film is that life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey. At the climax of the film, Joe reflects on the life he lived before, showing not only the different peaks of his life, but also the valleys in it. From discovering his love for jazz, to the decline of his late father’s health, to even just riding a subway, savoring the views of New York City. I have no shame in admitting that this scene alone broke me. Life is so beautiful, not just the good, nor the bad, but everything in between. I began to reflect on my own life watching this film, and couldn’t help but shed a tear, as did Joe. It was a nice reminder that life, no matter how hard it can get, is too beautiful of a thing to miss out on. So get out there, and enjoy every moment of it.
I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to say that this may have been Pixar at their most mature. While there are certainly laughs in it for the children, I think the film as a whole is directed at adults, and you can make the argument that it is mostly directed at us: college students. We are just getting started with our lives and we need to remember that we will have good, bad, and everything in between. There are some movies that hit closer to home the older you get. So much so that they can be hard to watch. “Soul” is one of those movies for me, and it now joins “Toy Story 3” as the only animated movies I will not watch for a long, long time. If a film can do that, you know it did an amazing job, and I think I can say that this is Pixar at its best. My final rating for “Soul” is 96/100.
[Featured photo courtesy of Disney.]