REVIEW: Soul

Has there ever been a Pixar movie where you haven’t cried? Nope. I didn’t think so.

I remember bawling my eyes out as Bing Bong faded to nothing. I nearly dehydrated during the opening sequence of Up. And don’t get me started on how much I cried when I remembered how much money I spent on the Cars 2 Blu-ray.

Soul is, obviously, no different. It’s been 24 hours since I saw the movie, and my eyes are still puffy and red. Either Soul touched me emotionally or… I have pink eye.

Similar to his 2015 hit – and best Pixar film to date – Inside Out, director Pete Docter has created more of an abstract world for viewers to enjoy; something they’d never seen (or even thought of) before. Sure, I adore Finding Nemo, but it is essentially a movie about fish. That is all.

Soul boasts a whimsical world featuring cosmic elevators to heaven, and a dreamy realm where souls get their personalities, guided by counsellors in the Great Before.

Pixar keeps pushing thee boundaries with their films; WALL-E featured very little dialogue; Inside Out and Soul both took a conceptual look at our existences, and The Good Dinosaur was the first Pixar film to be viewed by, like, eight people.

Of course, Soul is still a Pixar film – it’s family fun, and even features a scene where Tina Fey’s character shoots pizza from her butt – but, I believe is aimed at young adults more so.

Throughout, there are so many hilarious references that children simply wouldn’t understand; we are often introduced to some of 22’s (Tina Fey’s soul) mentors, including Mother Theresa, Archimedes and Muhammed Ali – all of whom become infuriated by her. There’s even a brief moment where Fey’s character explains how she’s the one behind the New York Knicks losing basketball games.

I’m 27-years-old and I barely understood that joke; so it’s clearly for mature audiences. (Then again, I am still laughing at 22 pooping pizza, so maybe I’m not the right demographic.)

Visually, Soul is up there as one of Pixar’s finest works – it even pays homage to Ratatouille, as Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) gets lost in music, the scene is transformed into a beautiful display of auroras, which pulse and glow in time with the music, similarly to how Remy envisioned food every time he took a bite.

There are also several types of animation throughout – the human world feels very different to the blurry, floaty world of the Great Before. Characters are also animated differently, with soul counters and counsellors being a more 2D, linear figure. And as Joe gets transported to the Great Before, sit back and enjoy the incredibly trippy, and trippily incredible style, below.

Naturally, with the protagonist, Joe Gardner, being an aspiring musician, the soundtrack is the highlight of the entire film – during a final montage, where Joe looks back on his life, accompanied with nothing but a beautiful score, I cried beyond belief. It wasn’t necessarily a gut-wrenching moment, like Pixar is famed for, but the music was just so beautiful.

Interestingly, Soul hired several composers; with Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor taking helm of the soundtrack during the moments in the Great Before; where Joe is simply a blue whispy soul, and Jon Batiste creating the music as we’re present on the real, human world, just adding to the striking differences between the two settings.

From its abstract storyline, to it’s incredible two-sided score, Soul is proud of its firsts for Pixar, including being the first to feature an African-American as the lead character. I, too, was concerned at first, when I saw the trailer, only to notice that 80% of the time Joe was represented as a blue, cartoonish soul, but that is not the case. I won’t give away spoilers, put to appease those concerned, we see a lot more of Joe in his human body than first expected.

Finally, and most importantly, this film has a very important moral – more so than ever due to the current climate we live in; Soul’s message really hit home, personally, as it instructed viewers to just enjoy life; and live every day as if it were their last; to not worry about tomorrow.

Despite not being able to watch it on a big screen – which this gorgeous film totally deserved to be – I implore you to watch the funny, beautiful and wise Soul. It’s released on Disney+ on Christmas Day, so can I suggest, like, maybe before the cheese board and fifth bottle of wine?

I’d hate for you to ruin the ambience.

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