Soul Movie Review Rating: 3.5/5 Stars (Three and a half stars)
Star Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Angela Bassett, Graham Norton
Director: Pete Docter, Kemp Powers
What’s Good: If you’re aware of the makers of the film, you know you’ll have to keep a box of tissues handy just in case & that’s because of how you connect to the soul of these films
What’s Bad: It fails to check a few boxes which is a roadblock in its entire process of becoming a cult classic, don’t get me wrong here because this still is a fantastic film!
Loo Break: Your soul might need one, after the film!
Watch or Not?: That shouldn’t even be a question for Disney + Pixar films because there should be no option of not watching them. Period.
Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) is a jazz teacher who is asked to obey his mother in taking a more stable job than his current one. Before he makes his mind, he’s offered a gig opposite a renowned jazz musician Dorothea Williams (voiced by Angela Bassett). Before he gets there, he dies, but his soul refuses to leave his body and move to ‘the great beyond’.
Hence he’s sent to ‘the great before’ where he gets to mentor 22 (voiced by Tina Fey). The job of a mentor is to prepare the souls to get to their body for the first time on the earth. 22 just doesn’t want to go to earth, and even a mentor like Muhammad Ali has failed to make her do so. She has even made Mother Teresa cry. The story is all about how Joe and 22 understand the purpose of their existence by getting to know each other.
Soul Movie Review: Script Analysis
Penned by Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers, the story screams Disney+Pixar with every frame. Writers describe ‘zone’ as a place somewhere between your physical self and your spiritual being. That’s exactly where this film takes you with its narrative. How ‘Inside Out’ talked about your feelings’ feelings, this one talks about your soul’s feelings.
A specific scene talks about how souls are giving traits way before they get into bodies, and that takes you straight back to Inside Out because of the similar universe. The story entirely depends on the character development of Joe and 22, which shapes up creating a magical connect with the subject of the film. The way makers take to develop these two characters making them purely interdependent speak so much about the impact it leaves.
Don’t let the flowery language above fool you to believe that this film is as perfect as many of Disney-Pixar collabs we’ve seen before, because it’s not. There are flaws. Not all characters are treated as soulfully as Joe and 22. There could have been so much around Esther Chae’s character who considers herself a failure despite being a good bassist. Joe’s relationship with his mom deserved better treatment. These things (and a thing about music which I talk about in the music section below) leave a few loose ends which could’ve been avoided.
Soul Movie Review: Star Performance
Jamie Foxx is a perfect match for Joe Gardner. It’s like even if this had been a live-action movie, Jamie would’ve made an ideal Joe. His voice gives the required texture to an already strikingly-written character.
Tina Fey gets in well into 22’s soul with her whimsically sounding voice. She compliments the charm of character, and have you ever heard how cuteness sounds like? Well, just listen to Tina as 22 in this one.
Angela Bassett provides the required thump to her character Dorothea Williams. The way she speaks highlights a lot about the aura her character carries around herself. Graham Norton as Moonwind is fun but deserved some great one-liners which were missing.
Soul Movie Review: Direction, Music
Pete Docter has directed while Kemp Powers helps him co-directing the film. Pete has two of the best Pixar films to his credit before this, which are Monsters, Inc. and Inside Out. As I already spoke, Soul is the same universe as Inside Out, but it’s entirely different from anything we’ve seen before.
The much-underrated task which Pete and Kemp have handled here (and not many will appreciate this) is the way they have managed to keep the three worlds (Earth, The Great Before & The Great Beyond) properly aligned without any confusion. Just like every Disney, Pixar film, there are a lot of things for everyone in this film, and everyone can watch this with a different angle. It’s another valuable addition to the list of animated movies for adults (as well as kids).
Music! Hmmmmm. I wasn’t demanding Newmans [Randy (Toy Story series, Monsters, Inc.) or even Thomas (Finding Nemo, Wall-E)] but this movie deserved Michael Giacchino (Up, Inside Out, Coco). Now, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross are good, but the sound pieces weren’t ambitious enough to match the fantasy happening on screen. Also, this could’ve proved to be an excellent musical as well, but that’s a whole different thing to debate about. This deserved better music.
Soul Movie Review: The Last Word
All said and done; Soul has got its soul at the right place! Christmas serves as the best season to watch films such as these. So I’d request you to get into your comfortable clothes, get a mason jar filled with the drink of your choice (Christmasy straw preferred), snuggle in a soft-to-touch blanket and get lost in the world designed by Disney and Pixar.
Three and a half stars!
Soul releases on 25 December , 2020.
Share with us your experience of watching Soul.