Friday, December 25, 2020

Soul Review: A Heartfelt and Soulful Animated Film

Jamie Foxx	...	Joe (voice) Tina Fey	Tina Fey	...	22 (voice) Graham Norton	Graham Norton	...	Moonwind (voice) Rachel House	Rachel House	...	Terry (voice) Alice Braga	Alice Braga	...	Counselor Jerry (voice) Richard Ayoade	Richard Ayoade	...	Counselor Jerry (voice) Phylicia Rashad	Phylicia Rashad	...	Libba (voice) Donnell Rawlings	Donnell Rawlings	...	Dez (voice) Questlove	Questlove	...	Curley (voice) (as Ahmir-Khalib Thompson a.k.a. Questlove) Angela Bassett	Angela Bassett	...	Dorothea (voice) Cora Champommier	Cora Champommier	...	Connie (voice) Margo Hall	Margo Hall	...	Melba (voice) Daveed Diggs	Daveed Diggs	...	Paul (voice) Rhodessa Jones	Rhodessa Jones	...	Lulu (voice) Wes Studi	Wes Studi	...	Counselor Jerry (voice)

Release date: December 25, 2020
Running time: 100 minutes
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton 
Directors: Pete Docter, Kemp Powers
Writers: Pete Docter, Kemp Powers, Mike Jones

A musician who has lost his passion for music, Joe (Foxx), is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul, 22 (Fey), learning about herself.  As the two explore life and living, Joe learns to see his life through the eyes of this soul and gets a better appreciation of his own existence.  

Disney surprised everyone by releasing Soul on Disney+ on Christmas day, rather than continue to delay it and deal with the uncertainty of movie theaters.  And what a great decision that was.  Soul is a Pixar film, so you already know that the animation will be absolutely stunning.  And it really is.  The film takes place partially in New York City and partially in the great beyond, and both are amazingly animated.  New York has bustling crowds, lights, and urban sprawl that looks perfect on the screen.  And the afterlife has bright colors, very different crowds, and some amazingly trippy effects that will take your breath away.  The afterlife has influences from art, other movies dealing with the afterlife, and some of Pixar's own whimsical nature.  But it is the New York scenes that are particularly interesting because they are accurate representations of New York, but also put it in its best light.  The city is beautifully rendered and the film really brings out some of the inner beauty of the city that can be missed in the day to day life.  

Directed by  Pete Docter	...	(directed by) Kemp Powers	...	(co-director) (co-directed by)Writing Credits   Pete Docter	...	(story and screenplay by) & Mike Jones	...	(story and screenplay by) & Kemp Powers	...	(story and screenplay by)     Produced by  Kiri Hart	...	executive producer Dana Murray	...	producer (p.g.a.) Dan Scanlon	...	executive producer
And along with the beautiful animation, the cast is wonderful.  Foxx and Fey are the stars and the highlights, and their interactions are natural and pure joy.  It is fun hearing their banter and seeing them both discover more about their characters as the film progresses.  But the movie has plenty of wonderful supporting characters in this journey too, ones that add diversity and heart to the film.  From some of Joe's students, to other musicians, to members of the great beyond, the whole film is wonderfully and enthusiastically voiced.  And speaking of the cast and the characters, Soul is Pixar's first film with a black protagonist, and the movie definitely dives feet first into diversity and inclusion.  The animated film has many prominent black members and has an emphasis on black culture and jazz music.  You can tell the care that was taken with this film in both the natural references and the number of creative and cultural consultants listed in the credits.  There are also prominent characters from a variety of races and cultures, but it is the care and natural inclusion of black culture in this film should be applauded.  

And as the film focuses on a hopeful jazz musician, it makes sense that jazz music is prominently and wonderfully featured.  There are so many great jazz numbers throughout that will make you tap your foot.  And the music accentuates both the performances where it is featured, but also when it is used to help keep the action moving and exciting.  And the story of Soul is one that will invigorate your own heart and soul.  As Pixar always does, it has some wonderful lessons about life and living it to the fullest.  There are some very heartfelt moments, along with some painful ones, but overall you get a film that will help you love the little things about our time on this rock.  There are so many small touches to appreciate, observations about life, funny little jokes that come naturally in films from this studio, and some important life lessons.  And through it all you will be amazed at another soulful hit from this amazing animation studio.

Soul will reinvigorate your heart and soul, with its stunning animation, wonderfully diverse characters and focus on black culture, and humorous and heartfelt story.  

Watch it.

animation animated pixar disney kids children family jazz black culture film black artists new york afterlife beyond
If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube.   Soul Premieres on Disney+ on Friday, December 25.

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