Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Soul (2020)

Directed by Pete Docter, Kemp Powers

Starring Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton


Interesting exploration of complicated ideas and a real thinker for spiritual adults, but it might be a little too cerebral for kids.

The genius of Pixar is that their stories are not about enemies. Instead, the antagonist is always life and its emotional complexities. The hero must find a way to recognize and navigate and grow. Here, the distinction of passion (what you enjoy) and purpose (what has meaning) and the warning to avoid becoming obsessed with your passion (for fear of becoming a lost soul) are particularly interesting.

In Soul, the cynic makes makes the most sense and competes with Joe to be the real hero of the story. Together, the dual journeys are engaging and powerful, though at the end, I wondered if they had overcomplicated and rushed things trying to tie up the loose ends from both stories. I also wondered if there would be some sort of reunion on Earth or if Joe would reach out to Lisa, something that had been alluded to more than once in the film.

The realms of the Great Before and Great Beyond are marvelously and creatively animated and personified. There is even something magical about the voiceovers with non-traditional accents and gravelly delivery. All of the voiceover is cleanly recorded and wonderfully edited. Comedy is funny, never on the nose or over-the-top. Comic timing is spot on.

Great jazz performances, and a really good ambient score by Reznor and Ross. The music and score are delicate and powerful and funny at just the right spots.

A lot of these little things go unnoticed to those who aren’t paying attention, but there’s a lot of good stuff here. Props to Pete Docter for another great Pixar installment. How do Docter and the rest of the Pixar crew manage to keep themes and tones and references consistent from film to film? How do they employ that degree of creative control without egos and conflict? Amazing.

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