Pixar’s Soulful Film


Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Pixar’s new movie, “Soul”, allows viewers to reflect on their life choices.

Anmol Gill, Lit-Art Editor

     Pixar released yet another animated movie, Soul, on December 25th, leaving many viewers to second-guess their life choices. This heartfelt movie displays the protagonist, Joe Gardner, as a middle-school band teacher whose life’s biggest aspiration is to become a professional jazz musician performer. However, after landing a huge gig with a famous artist one day, he falls into a manhole on his way back home, separating his soul from his body. While he is on the verge of dying, he tries to reunite with his body as his passion for jazz music forces him to cling onto life. Throughout the movie, Joe attempts to find a way out of the foreign dimension to return to his body and meets numerous other souls, one of them being 22, who is an unenthusiastic new soul yet to go to Earth but has no interest to do so. As their stories intertwine, Director Joe Doctor leaves no stone unturned to bring tears streaming down your face. 

     Joe is portrayed as a middle-aged man who is unsatisfied with his nine to five job as a teacher and yearns for his life aspirations to come true. As he is an ambitious yet tentative protagonist, he surrounds his whole life centered around the one goal of becoming a jazz musician, leaving no room to enjoy the little bits and parts of life. With these initial character flaws, the team of Soul was able to fully show his character development throughout the movie. An important side character of the movie, 22, is initially shown as an incurious, pessimistic soul in the “Great Before,’ where unborn souls reside,’ who radiates negative energy, however, as soon as she meets Joe, her personality and attitude changes for the better. Her humor was unmatched compared to anyone else in the movie as she left everyone cracking up. Overall, both of these characters had a personality that everyone could relate to at one point or another. 

     After the movie introduces Joe’s passion for jazz music, it dives right into the conflict where Joe walks into the construction area and falls into a manhole, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats. As he battles between life and death on the hospital bed, his soul is in line to go to the “Great Beyond” along with the rest of the old souls. At this point, many questions race through the mind: Would the rest of the story be in heaven? Would he manage to escape? Thankfully, Joe jumps out of the line to fall into the “Great Before” where he meets 22, a “lost” soul who finds no purpose to go to Earth. The movie continues on with Joe and Soul finding their purpose in life through humor, drama, and suspense. Through 22’s witty personality and Joe’s feverish behavior, the comedic element of the movie was consistent. However, despite the heartfelt moments in the movie, the scenes in the mid-part had long silent pauses for us to feel the affliction the characters were experiencing, leaving space for a yawn or two. Finally, the foreseeable ending came true, satisfying the audience as it was the only proper way to conclude the story. Even though some of the parts felt stretched, Soul was able to check all of my boxes to be considered a must-watch movie. 

     The Soul team made every effort possible to show their audience that their failures in life do not define who they are as a person. According to CheatSheet, Director Joe Docter clarifies,
“A lot of us grew up with this idea that we need to earn our way into being worthy, That’s why a lot of times, some of these goals end up being self-defining or self-limiting. One of the aims of the movie is to say that just by being alive, we are valued. We all deserve to enjoy what life has to offer. All you have to do is open your eyes and look around.” This being said, Soul was clearly able to convey this message through certain scenes, subtle actions, and dialogue. One particular scene that stuck out to me was when Joe noticed a child laughing with his mom as a small yellow leaf suddenly fell onto his hand, sparking a realization within him. At this point, I believed that he understood that enjoying the small parts in life is equally as important as reaching your goals. 

     As far as the setting goes, it is realistic as it gets: the heavy flowing traffic, constant construction work, and street food were all aligned with the aspects of New York City. Soul was able to win many hearts as it was streamed 2.4 million times, becoming one of the most popular films on Disney plus. Pixar’s new movie, Soul, will not only bring you to laughter and tears at the same time but also perhaps make you reconsider your perspective of life.