Tag Archives: Richard Ayoade

Disney/Pixar’s Soul

Trust Pixar to bravely and almost effortlessly tackle a subject as delicate and demanding as the human soul. They already kinda did in 2015’s Inside Out (the movie where feelings have feelings), which acts as a nice companion piece to Soul, a brilliant metaphysical stunner in every sense of the word and one of the most ambitious, rewarding films of the year. Jamie Foxx stars against type as Joe, a middle aged high school band teacher who always hoped to make it big as a jazz musician. When he finally nails a gig with a hotshot artist (Angela Bassett), he has an accident and goes into a coma before he can make the venue, hurling his soul into the great beyond where he furiously fights to make it back earth-side, but it’s more complicated than all that. He finds himself chained in mentorship to a dysfunctional soul (Tina Fey) who could never get the entry process right and hasn’t lived a single incarnation on earth. Together they traverse the gorgeously surreal lands beyond our earthly realm and eventually earth itself in a search for Joe’s body, a reason for Fey’s wayward soul to transition into earthly life and the very meaning of existence itself. Much like Inside Out, this takes on deep themes in a disarmingly lighthearted manner while still managing to be emotionally affecting enough that it doesn’t feel sappy or inconsequential. Joe literally learns that life isn’t about finding meaning or purpose, but that the meaning and purpose are there in the simple fact that there *is* life. The visuals are incredibly trippy and abstract in the realms beyond earth and beautifully photorealistic in a stunningly rendered New York City brought to life in painstaking autumnal detail. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross compose a reliably ambient and almost dark hued score that is something we haven’t ever heard in a Disney film and aside from Foxx and Fey’s solid lead voice work, listen for others including Richard Ayoade, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Questlove, Wes Studi, June Squibb and more. Pixar has gotten staggeringly mature and creative in ways I never thought possible since Inside Out and now Soul, this is a complex, wonderful, visually stimulating, wittily written, philosophically engaging piece of art and one of the best films you’ll see this year.

-Nate Hill