“A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.” – IMDB
I won’t lie to you, dear reader. Before I watched Soul, Pixar and I were going through some relationships troubles. I was actually to the point of writing one of those feedback letters usually reserved for the elderly (yes a letter, like pen and paper, instead of an email…shakes head). But Soul was able to pull me back from the edge. Let me clarify…
A majority of Pixar movies make me weep to the point of intense hysterics: Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Up, Toy Story 3, Brave, Inside Out, Coco, Onward, and a growing number of their shorts as well. However, recently, I’ve been slightly turned off by the emotional response Pixar has been eliciting from their audience.
This started with Inside Out, which I saw with my young niece and nephew. While us adults cried and wept, I looked over to see my niece and nephew relatively uninterested in the movie. And I understand why! Although Amy Poehler and co. had hilarious lines as the emotions, the core story was tough for a kid to relate to It’s about a preteen learning about the new emotions you experience in puberty. If you haven’t gone through that life experience, it’s going to be tough to find it very entertaining. Overall, I just felt that Inside Out lacked that perfect balance of humor and gravity that was found in Pixar’s earlier films, such as Toy Story 1/2/3 or a Finding Nemo. Instead, Pixar seems to have recently focused more on evoking that intense emotional response from its adult audience. I felt similarly about Onward and about some of their more recent shorts, like Wind (although I have to say that Wind is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen, just absolutely dev-a-stating). As beautiful as I find Pixar to be and as much as I appreciate the stunning creativity and poignancy of their projects, I was starting to get nervous that they were moving away from some of their earlier magic (I would argue that Coco is one of their only films in the past ten years that captures that perfect essence).
So, this was the mindset I went into Soul with, to the point that I was actually nervous to watch it. And I won’t lie, I still ugly cried, snorted, and ended up in the fetal position, but it was a much more enjoyable experience getting there. Tina Fey and particularly Jamie Foxx did a great job of bringing levity and childlike wonder to their roles and there are some great gags involving a cat that you can’t help but laugh out loud at. The animation itself was interesting and it’s always nice to see Pixar push its creative boundaries once again. The music was also great and added to the overall narrative, which itself was insightful and truly beautiful.
I would still argue that kids are not going to enjoy this movie as much as, let’s say, a Toy Story or Finding Nemo. While those movies deal with heavy subjects (aging and losing a child), they are more subtle in the introduction of their introduction to the audience. Plus, the subjects are surrounded by loads and loads of laughs. Soul is absolutely focused on its heavier subjects: life, death, passion, personal worth, the meaning of life and the laughs are there mainly to help that medicine go down. All in all, it’s an enjoyable, if emotional, watch (a box of tissues is necessary), but its not one that is going to make you forget all of your 2020-21 troubles.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Claire Bears
If you like this movie, you should also see: You know which Pixar movies make you cry…that’s between you and your Disney+
With: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton
Directed By: Pete Docter & Kemp Powers