Disney Pixar Animation Studios’ newest release Soul is about an amateur jazz musician turned middle school band teacher named Joey, who finds himself stuck in the afterlife after falling down a peculiarly deep storm drain. Once in the afterlife, Joey realizes that he has been taking his life for granted and will do anything to return back into his body and continue to live his normal life. The movie received an impressive 95% from Rotten Tomatoes and has been getting good reviews from other critics like Metacritic, IMDb, The New York Times, and The Guardian. With the overwhelming praise surrounding the film, one can’t help but wonder if it lives up to its high reviews.
The feature that sets Soul apart from Pixar’s other works is its soundtrack. Considering the movie’s protagonist is a pianist who is very passionate about jazz, Pixar does a phenomenal job creating thematic music for the film. The music sets the mood in different scenes and emphasizes Joey’s love for jazz, especially where Joey plays the piano. His passion is a well-implemented trait that makes for some excellent scenes. He is also a fighter who rejects his status of death and chases his dreams into the afterlife. He doesn’t let his major setbacks stop him from pursuing his musical aspirations. This determination paves the way for the story and makes Joey a very enjoyable protagonist.
The animation was also incredible. The style looks smooth and clean as the animators find a perfect balance between whimsical and absurd.
Pixar also succeeds in creating likable and relatable characters. When watching the film, I was especially fond of 22, a character who helps Joey find his body and get back to his regular life. She brought tons of energy and humor that complimented Joey’s more serious demeanor. Her character development throughout the movie was compelling. Before she met Joey, she had no motivation to live on Earth. She was sassy, moody, and succeeded in annoying many of the world’s most successful people. After living in Joey’s body, her whole demeanor changed. Despite initially feeling out of place on Earth, 22 found her appreciation for life after giving it a chance. I enjoyed watching the way she lived completely unaware of how ridiculous she looked while she enjoyed life’s simple pleasures like pizza and dancing. Yet, her lively character does not take away from Joey.
Joey’s relentless attitude persists on Earth, where he finds himself in the body of his cat, while 22 assumes his body. It is a funny, outside-the-box concept that is really entertaining in the second half of the movie. The moments where Cat-Joey was talking to Joey-22 while the other characters saw a crazy cat were some of the most creative scenes in the film. Joey and 22 are both incredibly well-made characters that shape Soul into the great movie that the critics say it is.
Despite the likable characters and comedic plot, Soul is not a perfect film by any means. The story becomes confusing and hard to follow at times, as if the directors are reaching too far to twist the story how they want to. There were moments when the plot crossed the line of creativity, stepping into the realm of confusion. While there were chaotic moments, I appreciated the excitement they brought. These crazy moments were arguably the movie’s best. Pixar isn’t exactly known for running with generic movie ideas and I believe the best moments of the movie were where the scenes were most unique.
At the end of the day, Soul is a family-friendly, heart-warming movie. The movie’s message is solid, and gives the viewer a fun experience. It may not be too easy to follow along with, but does it really matter? It isn’t meant to make perfect sense. The characters were great, the music was beautiful, and the animations were amazing. All things considered, I would recommend the movie to anyone with Disney+ who hasn’t already watched it. The movie definitely deserves the positive reviews it’s been receiving.
For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.