Directed by: Pete Docter
Written by: Pete Docter, Kemp Powers,
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey,
Soul Film Review
Pixar’s releases as of late have not been bad by any means, but they haven’t been reaching the height of quality that they used to be capable of reaching. Most animated films in the late 2010s were like that, not awful but very average. Inside Out was the last masterpiece they produced and their latest is from that film’s director Pete Docter. Is Soul the great film to break the average streak? Or is it yet another “meh” instalment? The answer is………………..somewhere in between.
Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) is an NY music teacher with a passion for Jazz music and a desire to have a music career. One day, he gets the chance to perform at a Jazz club yet then falls into a manhole the day before this performance. He finds himself about to enter “The Great Beyond” before managing to enter “The Great Before”, where new Souls are given personality traits. He is asked to mentor one of them, named 22 (Tina Fey) and works with her to try and get back to his body.
Soul goes in more interesting directions than I expected (let’s just say that the advertising may give you false impressions and has mostly focused on the first act), but for the first two acts it is definitely in the somewhat standard adventure comedy mould. It’s not aggressively formulaic but there are aspects to it that don’t feel inspired. In general, this is easily the most comedic film that Pete Doctor has done, but he does excel at it. There are several hilarious moments and it is carried heavily by 22 and Joe’s complex ever changing and always entertaining dynamic. But the first two acts do feel like they are missing an emotional core, one that only pops up every now and then.
Then, the third act happens and I was pretty stunned. The direction that it takes the story in is in service of an incredibly powerful message that is delivered in one of the best scenes Pixar has ever produced. Trust me when I say that that sequence will most likely become Soul’s signature scene, like Up’s married life montage or Toy Story 3’s incinerator scene. The way the story resolves itself overall is smart and touching.
The animation is stunning as usual, with the usage of 2D characters especially being marvellous to look at, but what really stands out is the music. There is a blend between the Jazz score on the New York sections and the Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross score on the Great Before sections and both add an incredibly unique personality as well as being well composed. Voice acting is excellent too, with Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey working well off of each other and the supporting cast of comedic talent (such as Richard Ayode and Rachel House) are both funny and also used sparingly enough to not become too annoying.
Soul is hard to rank in Pixar’s catalogue and may not be the masterful comeback I was hoping for, but as a film on it’s own, it’s a funny and entertaining adventure with a brilliant finale that makes it a worthwhile sit.