After a long year of trailers, snippets, delays, and reschedulings, the Disney/Pixar original animated feature Soul finally graced us with its soulful presence on Christmas Day – exclusively streaming on Disney+.
Soul is about a middle-aged middle-school band instructor named Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) who is still trying to land his dream gig as a jazz piano player. On the day Joe finally get a chance to play for a well known saxophonist, Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett), he fortuitously falls in an uncovered manhole — sending his soul and the audience on a journey to understand what it means to truly live and what your legacy will look like when you leave the physical world and your soul goes to The Great Beyond.
With themes of existentialism, Soul is easily the most catered to the adult fans like myself that grew up with Disney and Pixar movies who are at the age understanding — especially with everything that has transpired in the world this past year. Even though the timing of the movie is pure coincidence due to the fact that animated movies take years to make, it couldn’t have been more perfect timing.
With the imagery of The Great Beyond, The Great Before, the physical land of New York City, and all of the intricate and individual details of each character, Soul has some of the most impressive Pixar animation to date. With scenes like the barbershop scene that showed different variations of black body types, hair styles, facial features, and aspirations — the representation in the animation mattered just as much as the details of the animation did. Even with the prominent representation, this movie suffers from the same problem that The Princess and The Frog suffers from; turning the black main character into a cute MacGuffin.
With incredible animation and heavy themes, it’s almost easy to miss out on how powerful the music is in Soul. The music composed from Trent Reznor, Jon Batiste, and Atticus Ross reminds me of idle PlayStation menu music — in the best way possible. It fills each scene in The Great Beyond and The Great Before with swelling and melodic echoes that feel like a warm hug.
The most important question that Soul asks is this: “If you got to see your life as an exhibit, would you be happy with how you lived and if not, what would you do to change it?” I hope the writers and directors get to see an Academy Award nomination in their life exhibit next year.
Elijah Horton is a Long Island born, Orlando-based writer and photographer. Since he was a kid, Elijah has had a deep passion for movies, music, and photography.
That passion led him to Full Sail where he graduated with a film degree and a desire to make a film of his own one day. For now he’s just pretty good at writing about them.