Movie Review: Disney’s Animated “Soul” Plays Into Our Own Dreams


Graphic designed by Chloe Ladines

Soul, another hit movie made by Disney and Pixar. However, it’s not just a hit movie. It is a hit movie that never made it into theaters and still delivered an amazing Disney and Pixar story.

Directed by Pete Docter (who also directed Inside Out), Pixar’s new animated movie Soul takes you on a journey into the afterlife and back of a middle-school band teacher, with a simple yet powerful ending to the story.

Soul is the story of Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) who landed in a nearly fatal accident after just getting a big gig of his dreams with famous jazz saxophonist Dorothea Williams (voiced by Angela Bassett). He ends up in the Hereafter, and meets a soul named 22 (voiced by Tina Fey) in The Great Before. Then together they go on an accidental body-swapping quest that teaches both characters about the joys in life of being human.

When it looked like 22 wasn’t able to be born on Earth, Joe sacrifices his chance of returning back to his old life so that 22 can live–his actions didn’t go unnoticed. The Powers-That-Be in The Great Before allowed Joe to go back to Earth, after having realized what really matters in his life with their help.

In the last scene, a soul counselor asks him how he’s going to spend his life, and Joe responds, “I’m not sure. But I do know I’m going to live every minute of it.” And with that, Joe steps out of his house with a renewed view of life and smiles. 

For some viewers like me, this movie wasn’t a tear-jerker like Inside Out or Coco, but it still made you stop for a moment and reflect on the aspects of your life. That’s what makes this movie different from the other Pixar movies. While watching the movie there were profound moments that leave the audience wondering, “What will I do with my life?” in the nicest existential way possible. Because that question can mean something so simple to the children audience but so much more complex to those who are older. In a way, this film was a refreshing wake up call to some.

If reflecting on life doesn’t catch your appeal, the diverse variation in animation in this film might. During the film, the animation switches between the realistic design to a more imaginative one like in Inside Out. While in the imaginative design like in scenes in The Great Before, the animators were able to capture unique designs when mixing 2D and 3D into the world. Soul characters like 22 were 3D with vibrant designs. This was similar to Joy and the other emotions’ designs in Inside Out. Then there were characters like the Powers-That-Be that had an eye-catching 2D abstract design to them.

In the background of all of this is beautiful jazz music scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The song captured the feel of passion for what you love most to the extra kick in your step when you walk outside smiling. There was never a dull moment when it came to the soundtrack.  

This is a warm-hearted story for a cold winter’s day.