“Soul” is filled with playful animations and messages about following one’s passions. (Pixar Animation Studios)
Fountain Valley High School

Review: The spirit of ‘Soul’ makes it worth watching

Writer’s note: This review contains spoilers for “Soul.”

Back in December 2020, Disney released Pixar’s “Soul” through its streaming service Disney+. The movie received generally positive reviews, being described as “a small, delicate movie that doesn’t hit every note perfectly” but praised for its “combination of skill, feeling and inspiration” by the New York Times.

Many people wondered if “Soul” is worth the hype it received, especially people who are considering purchasing Disney Plus temporarily to watch it. “Soul,” overall, is a solid film with a fascinating plot and complex interactions between characters, and it is a must-watch for anyone on the fence about seeing it.

The story follows Joe Gardner, a high school band teacher who isn’t completely satisfied with the life he’s lived, desperately trying to become a jazz musician. He gets his lucky break when a friend informs him about an opportunity to perform with Dorothea Williams, the leader of a well-known jazz quartet.

Joe performs for Dorothea and is accepted to perform with her group later that night. Unfortunately, soon after he hears this great news, Joe’s time on earth is cut drastically short. After a mishap, he arrives at The Great Before, a place where souls are assigned their personalities and sent to inhabit a body on earth. Here, he makes a deal with a troubled soul with the hope that he will be able to return to his body.

The whole way through, “Soul” is filled with vivid, colorful animation that makes the movie entrancing to watch from an artistic perspective. It does, however, know to become somber when needed and sets the proper mood for each scene. The audience is also welcomed to the movie by familiar voices such as Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, who fit the roles of their respective characters nearly perfectly.

Throughout the movie, the audience is presented with far darker tones than in many other Disney and Pixar movies, such as the abruptness of death and what it truly means to have a soul. These themes could be refreshing to those who enjoy Disney movies yet find them to be too childish at times. It could also pique the interest of those who aren’t necessarily fans of the brand but want to immerse themselves in a story that can be solemn yet lighthearted at the same time.

“Soul” truly is an eye-opening movie, as many of us have never considered what makes an individual who they are when it comes to their passions, personal struggles and even their deepest regrets. This movie will leave viewers with a newfound perspective on their lives, and what they consider to be living their lives to the fullest.

A possible irritation that may irk viewers is the fact that “Soul” leaves off on multiple cliffhangers. We don’t get to see how Joe decided to change his life, the life that Soul 22 began or how Connie, one of Joe’s students, continued her musical path. While this can be annoying, it opens up many different opportunities for a possible sequel in the future.

Many viewers also found themselves excited to watch a movie featuring Pixar’s first Black lead character but were disappointed when he wasn’t in his own body for a majority of the film. This could possibly drive would-be viewers away from the film if it was one of the main factors they were looking forward to.

“Soul” has opened many doors for both Disney and Pixar regarding exploring more melancholy and challenging themes for movies in the future. The unique qualities that “Soul” brings to the table will surely make it a beloved film for years to come.