"Soul" is a beautiful portrayal of finding yourself. (Photo courtesy of Disney / Pixar)
Buena Park High School

Review: Disney and Pixar’s ‘Soul’ gives powerful messages this holiday season

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers.


Disney and Pixar’s “Soul” started streaming on Disney+ on December 25. An avid Pixar fan myself, I took the opportunity to watch it with my family as a wrap up to our Christmas night. Not only is the animated movie a cinematic beauty, but it also portrays deep messages we should all hold dear — especially during this pandemic.

“Soul” tells the story of Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher whose true passion is to pursue his jazz career as a pianist. After a series of events, he finds himself in The Great Before, a realm where souls get their unique personality traits before being sent to earth. There are seven traits that the souls need in order to attain an Earth badge, with one of them being their “spark”: a unique trait that makes them who they are.

After many failed attempts to get back to earth, Joe gets placed as a mentor for Soul 22, a soul who displays no passion to go to Earth and feels comfortable remaining in The Great Before. Joe makes a deal with 22, asking for her Earth badge if he helps her find her spark. This is where the movie truly starts.

Personally, I could see myself relating to 22. Underneath her nonchalant attitude, the negative comments of her past mentors mentally destroy her to the point where she feels as if she isn’t good enough to even have the chance to live. Near the end of the movie, viewers can see these emotions in earnest, when she morphs into a monster guarded by the pernicious influences of others. I found myself tearing up during this scene because I could deeply relate to the 22 in the feeling that compared to others, you just aren’t good enough.

However, at this point in the movie, the film emphasizes the importance of empathy. It is Joe that reaches out to 22, even when she is in her monster form, and gives her back her Earth badge. The film beautifully animates the moment where 22 finds hope in her future and starts to believe in herself again. To me, this scene was a perfect representation of what many of us may feel right now.

During the COVID-19 pandemic when the uncertainties of our education, jobs, and living conditions loom over our heads, it is important to remember to reach out to your loved ones to check up on their mental health. Without a doubt, this past year has been hard for everyone, but this movie emphasizes that with a stable support system, we can get through this time together.

The animated film also does an incredible job of illustrating the idea of purpose in our lives. Joe starts off by thinking that his spark, is his ultimate purpose in his life. However, through his time with 22, he realizes that this is far from the truth. The movie demonstrates that the idea of purpose is not one specific thing, but that our purpose is to live to our best potential. It is only when Joe stops and truly reflects on his time with 22 that he realizes that we often take the small moments of life for granted. The falling of leaves off of trees, the ability to walk around the city, even eating pizza — these are all moments that we could only experience if we are alive. This pandemic has taken the normalcy of our daily lives from right under our feet and this movie brings home the point that when our lives return to a familiar sense of normal, we can’t take these small moments for granted.

Although there are so many more impactful messages and scenes, these were just a few that I wanted to share. I found it quite fitting that this movie was released on December 25, a day when people all around the world celebrate Christmas. This movie sends out messages of hope and togetherness which is ever-present in the Holiday spirit.

So, the big question: Should you watch “Soul”? Absolutely yes. This movie explores themes of finding meaning in your life and inspires self-reflection by the end of the movie. If you have the chance, I highly recommend checking out “Soul” on Disney+ with your loved ones this Holiday season — you won’t regret it.