Everyone’s talking about Disney Pixar’s latest animated film Soul that was released Christmas Day. Soul follows Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx, who is a middle school music teacher discovering life’s true purpose on his journey in and out of the great beyond. Life may not have gone the way Joe expected it, but when he travels to a new realm to help someone else find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.
This film is the first of its kind spotlighting a story we don’t hear too often or at all. The co-director of Soul is the first Black co-director at Pixar and made their first Black lead animated film. If these factors weren’t enough to give the film a watch, some fans believe the movie is actually more inspiring for adults than children. Soul isn’t your ordinary, traditional Holiday film. It is quite the opposite. Disney Pixar does an excellent job at telling a captivating, heart wrenching story, but there is something even more special about this film due to its’ timely release and unique storyline.
Soul allowed for viewers to consider the true meaning of the season and furthermore, question the thought of life’s purpose. A global pandemic and a trying year forced people across the world to sit down and ponder on what fulfillment feels like. Joe, a middle school music teacher with a passion for Jazz, believes his ultimate purpose in life is music. Though, we find out his persistent pursuit of this passion causes him to overlook the simple beauty and wonders in life that he so desperately seeks.
Critics of the film argue that Black animated films like Soul constantly depict the death of Black characters or Black characters as creatures like that of Princess and the Frog. Black storytelling is not monolithic and there is plenty of room in Hollywood for all of these stories to be told that are accurate depictions of Black lives. Often times, Black people are far more critical of Black work than mainstream films. Soul’s release trending across social media proves that there is a need for stories that evidently resonate with Black audiences and there are families eager to support.
Aside from the absolute need for more Black characters to be showcased on screen, it was refreshing to see how accurate the musicianship was throughout the film. The musicians were playing the actual notes on their respective instruments from the piano to the saxophone. The notes matched the rhythms, which is something that many films, even beyond animation, fail to convey. With a movie focusing on a passionate and overzealous music teacher, musicians across the world find an appreciation in that small detail and cinematic gesture.
The lighting is also something to note and take gratitude in with this stellar animated film. Filmmakers are very conscious of lighting on Black skin when it comes to non-animated films, but it is not something one might take notice of in an animated film. However, the lighting is an important piece to the emotional triggers placed throughout the 1 hour 46 minute film. A key component to staging during Joe’s first and possibly last Jazz performance, the scenes between Earth and the great beyond and brighter moments as we follow Joe and 22 throughout the streets of New York City.
There are a number of talented voice actors who accompany Jamie Foxx’s gifted performance in the film from Questlove as Joe’s former student Curly, Tina Fey who plays 22, Phylicia Rashad as Joe’s mom Libba, and Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs as Paul from the masterful barbershop scene. It was a roundup of exceptional stars and musicians who happily shared in a bit of joy and soul with the world this Holiday season.
Fans are still raving (and critiquing) the film on Twitter. Here are a few of the reactions and some interesting facts we learned about the film:
The greatest reaction from this film is that people are learning to appreciate life’s truest joys. People are encouraged to celebrate having a passion for success and the simple joys of our existence and life around us. Black people are seen and represented in a new way on screen which makes room for more stories to be told.
Be sure to catch Soul on Disney Plus. We’re certain you and the family will enjoy as much as we did.