In many cases, animated films end up being better and more developed than most live-action films geared toward adults. It’s been like this for a while now, and based on Soul, it doesn’t look like a trend that’s ending any time soon. Like most others, this animated movie is supposed to be for kids, but the mature content and the style in which it’s handled turns it into something that even adults will be able to feel by its conclusion.
Soul introduces us to Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a middle-school music teacher who gets an opportunity to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before, an unbelievable place where souls go before they make their way to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with 22 (Tina Fey), a precocious soul who has no interest in the human experience. Together, they’ll make their way back to Earth and discover just how much they’ve both been missing.
Soul handles the elements of life and death in a way that’s emotionally safe for kids. It’s not like this stuff hasn’t been in animated films before, but it attempts to go a little bit deeper as we follow our protagonist on his journey to life outside of what we know. I think that’s what makes it a bit more unique when comparing it to what we’ve experienced before in one of these films.
Joe’s time on earth and in other areas are both pretty engaging and captivating. With his time on our planet taking place in New York City, we’re probably familiar with at least some of what’s shown here. What we’re not used to is what’s seen outside of life on earth.
Obviously, because no one knows exactly what happens when our time here comes to an end, the guys behind Soul had to improvise and get creative. Here, they’re allowed to do so and make things up. In order to accomplish that, they place a good amount of thought and effort into this version of that experience.
Overall, the Soul version of the afterlife manages to be pretty detailed. They give us a significant amount of depth and allow us to understand the necessary basics so that the events of the film can happen. With everything that they add, nothing is too complicated for anyone regardless of their age or anything.
What’s included and how it’s handled allows everything to flow and move as Soul proves to be a mostly fast-paced flick. They tell us everything we need to know about our most important characters and their situations while moving the story along simultaneously. Doing so requires us to keep up as both events big and small may prove to have some importance by the time we reach the final act.
Watching it all unfold is indeed entertaining. Soul is about a man and his passion for music, but deep down, it’s really about life and everything that makes it worth living. It was a joy watching it all come together and will most likely allow people of all ages to walk away feeling as if they watched a movie that they were able to honestly enjoy and maybe even be inspired by.
2020 was a weird and devastating year for most of us. We haven’t had much to really love and embrace, but Soul is something that people will undoubtedly find value in. Hopefully, when you watch it, you focus and take it for what it is. If you do, you may also walk away believing that it’s easily the best film (animated or otherwise) to come out in 2020.
Director: Pete Docter
Co-Director: Kemp Powers
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Film Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: December 25, 2020
- Score - 8/108/10