TL;DR – A perfectly fine film, with great animation, but it felt like it was missing something.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene (sort of)
Soul Review –
Well, it has been a long, and let’s call it, interesting year, but today brings to a close our last reviewed of a film from 2020. To round out the year, it is time to look at Pixar’s next entry, and given we already had a strong movie in Onward this year. I came into Soul with some reasonably high expectations.
So to set the scene, Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) is a high school music teacher, but his real passion is performing jazz. This puts him in conflict with his mother Libba (Phylicia Rashad) who wants him to have a stable job. Well, those two worlds are about to collide when he is offered a full-time position teaching while also getting the chance to perform with the famous Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett). This would be a big decision for Joe if he didn’t then fall through an open manhole and wake up on the escalator to the other side.
One of the things I liked about Soul was its animation. I liked the contrast between the blobby 3D forms of the humans/souls and then the abstract 2D forms of all the Jerries. This led to some exciting differences like when Terry (Rachel House) was in the real world or sailing around ‘The Zone’. I particularly liked the cat’s animations that fell both intone with how a cat would behave and very stylised for the film.
I also enjoyed many of the characters in the film. I think Jamie Foxx was compelling as Joe Gardner fitting into that void of someone who has not figured out his life and is fighting for something but not sure what that thing is. The conversations between Joe and his mother create the film’s emotional heart, and they feel grounded in reality. I also found Rachel House a delight in every scene she was in, making that frantic energy the film needed.
However, one of the film’s facets that didn’t work for me was the character of 22 (Tina Fey). It felt like Tina Fey was miscast here, or the writing didn’t support her because her character always felt forced rather than a natural part of the world. This meant that some of the key emotional moments in the film landed flat for me. When looking at the story, I couldn’t help but feel when watching the movie that I had seen them explore similar themes before in Coco, and that film worked a lot better.
In the end, do we recommend Soul? We look, while I don’t think all the film worked. It is still a Pixar product so there will always be that level of polish that helps smooth over any rough edges. This left the film being enjoyable, even if it didn’t reach the heights it was aiming for.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Soul
Directed by – Pete Docter
Written by – Pete Docter, Mike Jones & Kemp Powers
Music by – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste
Cinematography by – Matt Aspbury & Ian Megibben
Edited by – Kevin Nolting
Production/Distribution Companies – Pixar & Disney
Starring – Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Phylicia Rashad, Donnell Rawlings, Questlove, Angela Bassett, Daveed Diggs, Cora Champommier, Wes Studi, Fortune Feimster, Zenobia Shroff, Margo Hall, Rhodessa Jones, June Squibb, Esther Chae & Cody Chesnutt
Rating – Australia: PG;