Friday, January 8, 2021

Movie Review: Soul

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good theme and animation; fun overall
Cons: A different story, so takes a couple watches to fully appreciate
The Bottom Line:
A different film
Reminds us to enjoy life
Takes a watch or two  

Rediscovering the Soul of Life

I finally did it – I have signed up for a streaming service.  Anyone surprised that it was Disney+?  I didn’t think so.  The first thing I watched when I signed up was Soul, the newest film was Pixar.

The movie tells the story of Joe (voiced by Jamie Foxx).  While he works as a music teacher, he has always dreamed of being a Jazz musician.  When he finally gets his shot, he is so excited, he stops watching where he is going, and he winds up falling down an open manhole.

When Joe wakes up, he discovers that he is now in the in-between.  Not ready to be dead with his dream so close, Joe tries to find a way to get back to Earth, finally connecting up with 22 (Tina Fey), a reluctant soul that doesn’t want to head to Earth at all.  Will mentoring her help Joe get back to Earth himself?

Honestly, the previews for this movie left me feeling a bit cold.  I just couldn’t quite figure out what the movie was going to be about and how much I might enjoy it.  But I still had to watch it because…Pixar.  I’m glad I did.

Obviously, the premise of this film isn’t something I’d agree with theologically.  If you have kids, you will want to keep that in mind.  But, I don’t look to animated films for my theology, so this is worth noting only in passing.

I suspect the humor in this film is something that will grow on my over time.  While I was certainly amused by parts of it, I felt like I should have been laughing at it a bit more.  I suspect watching it in a crowded theater would have helped with that.

The story is good.  There were several developments along the way I wasn’t expecting, and I enjoyed that.  That isn’t to say I was surprised by the ultimate outcome of the story, just several of the developments along the way.

I don’t recognize as many of the voice cast as I often do.  In addition to the two cast members I already named, the film also features Phylicia Rashad and Angela Bassett.  As always, the voice cast is wonderful whether I recognized their name or not.

And the animation is fantastic.  The fantasy world that they’ve created is fun and inventive.  Meanwhile, the scenes set in New York City look great as well.

The theme of the movie is one that is familiar to fans of Pixar and especially fans of director Pete Docter’s other movies (including Up and Inside Out).  It’s certainly a good reminder to stop and enjoy life along the way while pursuing our goals.  I think that was one reason I did enjoy the movie so much was the theme.

As I’m writing this review, it’s about a day after I watched the movie, and I’m still trying to pin down my exact reaction to the movie.  I think this is one of those movies that will grow on me with rewatches.  Now that I know where the movie is going and how it gets there, I was relax and enjoy the journey.  This wouldn’t be the first film that has become a favorite the more I’ve watched it.  The Princess Bride and The Emperor’s New Groove are other movies that fall into that category. 

If this sounds like I think the movie is bad, that’s not the case.  It’s just different.  Many people seem to be embracing it right away, but I’m still trying to process the film for what it is and separate it from my expectations.

Of course, this movie was supposed to be released in theaters with a short.  That was is “Burrow,” and you’ll find it on Disney+ as well.  I definitely recommend you search it out because it is cute.

Soul is a good movie.  It’s different from a normal Pixar film.  If you are a fan of Pixar, you should definitely watch it with an open mind to the story the film is telling.

1 comment:

  1. Great review, Mark. I hadn't really gone into SOUL with any expectations, not having a clue what it was about. My family and I watched in Christmas Day and we all enjoyed it overall. It wasn't an instant favorite like some Pixar's other movies have been though. And at first I wasn't sure what to think. I think you are right though--it will probably get better the more we watch it.