Soul feeds inner need

Michaela Ely, Webmaster

Pixar’s new film Soul, released Dec. 26 on Disney+ follows a middle school band teacher named Joe Gardner and his path through the afterlife and his path to find himself along the way.


The film starts with Joe (Jamie Foxx) teaching his band class while he dreams of being a professional jazz player. Due to a former student of his, he is granted the opportunity to play with renowned saxophone player, Dorothea Williams (Angela Basset). This causes him to go on a euphoric high that causes him to lose his focus and fall into a manhole and die. He then goes into the Great Beyond which he doesn’t want because he hasn’t accepted his death. Instead, he escapes to the Great Before, where all souls begin their journeys.


This is where we meet Soul 22 (Tina Fey). Twenty-two has struggled to find their spark and begin life on Earth and due to a series of events. Joe becomes a mentor to 22 to help them find this spark. It is not originally known what a spark is but at the time it is believed to be the soul’s life purpose. Joe and 22 then embark on a journey back to Earth to secure their own futures and end up teaching each other about life and what exactly makes it worth living.


Although this film had some criticism before release due to the trope of African-American protagonists often transforming into something else like The Princess and the Frog, this transformation does not make the protagonist lose key characteristics that define him. Even though Joe transforms into a soul, his personality and culture still shine through his transformation. During films like The Princess and the Frog, the black culture is forgotten from the character, rather than embraced. This film is a milestone in representation, featuring several well-developed African-American characters.


The concept of Soul is illustrated beautifully throughout the film, especially for a kids’ movie. Pixar tackles the idea of life’s purpose wonderfully and in a way that is easy to understand. By the end of the movie, it’s likely to have a completely different outlook on life. It is most easily illustrated by the differences in the two main characters, Joe, who is at the end of his life but doesn’t want it to be over and 22, whose life is ready to begin but they aren’t ready. These two polar opposites of characters play off each other so well as they both try to achieve their goals and are also a great comedic duo. Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey play off each other so well, whether it’s for an emotional scene or a hilarious one.


Soul is a film meant for everyone, whether it’s a little kid, a teenager or a grandma. This film teaches so much about life’s true purpose, the small joys in life and how to find them. Overall, this was a beautiful animated film from Pixar and I can’t wait to see what their next idea will be.