The upcoming Pixar Animation Studios’ film SOUL is visually stunning. It is the first animated film by the studio to feature a Black protagonist and a predominantly Black animated cast. It’s musically based, has decent messaging, and it has wonderful voice artists – starting with lead character Joe Gardner who’s voiced by Academy award-winner Jamie Foxx and including Tina Fey, Angela Bassett, Daveed Diggs, Ahmir ‘?Questlove’ Thompson, and Phylicia Rashad.
So why was I only satisfied and not overly ecstatic with it? I must be honest MMT Fam, this isn’t a film I would continuously watch with little ones, or by myself for that matter. Although the messaging is solid – and encourages kids young and old to appreciate life and live purposefully – I think it was a bit heavy and I didn’t laugh as much as I needed.
Here’s the synopsis: Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new feature film “Soul” introduces Joe Gardner (voice of Jamie Foxx) – a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (voice of Tina Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.
The film is not filled with a lot of music, or less than you would expect for a film primarily about a musician, but maybe it should have been to offset the weighty topic.
And though I appreciated seeing (a form) of Joe for most of the film, unlike some folks’ chief complaint of the Tiana character in 2009’s “The Princess and the Frog,” I just didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.
Overall, “Soul” has some very entertaining moments and is a visually marvelous work – just not one I would keep in the queue. I rate it 3 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
SOUL premieres on Disney+ on Christmas Day, December 25.
Until next thought, Thomasena