Disney Pixar’s “Soul” is special in every aspect due to its simplicity. It’s a perfectly balanced film with the right amount of heart for the family, but I feel the true moral of the experience will resonate better with adults. The message behind the film is “what is your spark” or “what gives you purpose.” Soul explores the understanding of your reason to exist, and the gift of breathing the fresh air of creativity. Pixar tugs on the thread of human semblance and addresses that our realities are built upon perception and it’s ingenious.
Of course, it’s not the first time that the studio has treaded the waters of older stories born from personal commentary. For example, “UP” is a coming of age story melted together with a tale of acceptance and closure after losing the one you loved the most. The formula can be found in the blueprint of Pixar’s films. Take a look at “Inside Out.” It’s a deep dive through a child’s lens on how humans process emotions and explore personalities.
Pixar always maintains the integrity of every film they release. The studio is able to sustain a strong track record of films, either through the means of excellent casting, or just attention to purpose. It leaves room for the thought of who these films are truly made for.
In a way, it feels like Disney comes off with a strategy of misdirection from one stance, but it gives food for thought and lends truth that hearts still contain a piece of our child’s esque nature, and the once-dormant memories we perceived to be long gone are just lying in slumber waiting to be awoken, even in adulthood. For example, you know when you get goosebumps or tear up at the title screen; that’s your adolescence coming to the surface. It’s truly powerful when you think about how creative and meticulous the studio really is.
‘Soul’ is exceptionally reflective of our personal journeys and inner conflicts because the main character, Joe Gardner, feels human and real in every facet of the term. He has aspirations to fulfill his purpose. He is awkwardly bound by a fear of the unknown. When we first meet the character he has no confidence. He tries too hard and nothing comes his way. Joe longs to find purpose, but he hits the brick wall just like a majority of us.
Throughout the film, Pixar starts to paint a portrait of understanding struggles through triumph. We all feel run down and exhausted. Our minds wear down, our hearts break and then the fire of passion goes out. Many forget what makes them unique. The downward spiral of human experience is something that the film touches upon, and with respect to the integrity of the film, no spoilers will be discussed.
Of course, it’s locked away by a fresh coat of photo-realistic animation. Of course, that’s not a bad thing at all. I was honestly impressed with how real the environments popped on the screen, and how far animation has truly come.
New York City in “Soul” is vibrant. From the moment’s Joe is walking in the streets to the details of street signs, the bodegas, his barbershop, and even the theater where he plays. It honestly felt like Pixar wanted to cover every little detail.
One thing that needs to be highlighted is how the balance of music and the genre of jazz conveyed the message of the film. It was poetic to see how organic music and the philosophy of life can assimilate. As a musician I remember getting in the zone, and the spirit of music unfold and the energy was infectious, and it would take you over, and it was truly an out of body experience.
The casting for ‘Soul’ is also well crafted. Led by the sensational Jaime Foxx, who is just overflowing with passion. Foxx’s energy is unmatched in this film. Tina Fey as 22 steals the spotlight. 22’s arc is so good and so creative, it would be a shame to spoil it. Fay and Foxx have excellent chemistry.
All I can really say is that ‘Soul’ may be the film with the biggest lasting impact and the one you absolutely need to see as we all try to lift our collective spirits heading into a hopefully brighter new year. The film is not only a passion project, but it’s one that rekindles the desire to find your place. Pixar always leaves a message behind, and I think the lesson of slowing down and admiring the little things is one that needs to be taught because we never know when our time will end.