Image Credit: Disney and Pixar’s Soul
I’m still apoplectic I couldn’t see ‘Soul’ in the cinema. After its streaming debut on Disney+, I deliberately waited a few weeks, so I could simulate the feeling of having accidentally missed it on a big screen. Or rather the feeling of having an accident, ending up in a coma, and waking up after the film has completed its cinema run. Because there’s no way I’d have been stupid enough to miss a Pixar film in the cinema.
With such caveats in place, whilst watching ‘Soul’ I still felt annoyed. Some of the afterlife vistas are crying out for the vast space of the cinematic canvas. Director Pete Doctor and his animators have crafted a visually astonishing piece well up to Pixar’s usual impossibly high standards. Whether the autumnal streets of New York or the surreal planes of the afterlife, ‘Soul’ is an eye-popping delight.
A Matter of Life and Death.
Said afterlife is inadvertently stumbled into when part-time jazz pianist Joe falls down a manhole and ends up in a coma, sending his soul onto Pixar’s equivalent of the staircase to heaven in 'A Matter of Life and Death'.
Determined to return to his body, he attempts to flee the Great Beyond and ends up in a dimension containing unborn souls. For reasons too enjoyably convoluted to explain, he agrees to be a mentor to a particularly troublesome unborn soul that doesn’t want to go to Earth.
Good vocal turns from the likes of Jamie Foxx.
To reveal too much more of the plot will spoil the amusing existential twists and turns, suffice to say this is a warm, witty, charming film that skews in a similar direction to Docter’s earlier masterpiece Inside Out. It doesn’t quite match that film, as the plot is slightly more predictable, but there is much joy to be had along the way. Good vocal turns from the likes of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, and Richard Ayoade add to the fun, and the fine music score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is the icing on the cake.
The meaning of life themes grappled with herein aren’t as profound as, say, the importance of sadness theme in 'Inside Out'. Nonetheless, messages about the difference between being “in the zone” (positive) and obsession causing you to miss out on life (negative) are entertainingly presented, especially in an amusing scene involving a Wall Street hedge manager.
Lots of the jokes about philosophers, psychologists, and other historic figures may go over the heads of young children, but there is plenty of slapstick fun for them to enjoy as well.
In short, ‘Soul’ is another Pixar winner, well worth watching even if it can’t be seen on the big screen.