‘Soul’ Review


Disney Pixar

Title of the movie Pixar’s “Soul” from 2020


       The newest Pixar movie, Soul”, was released on Dec. 25 on the streaming service, Disney+. The movie has a lot of complex themes, including purpose, death, life, and how to live it that stand on their own despite being compared to Pixar’s 2015 movie, Inside Out.

       “Soul tells the story of Joe Gardner, a jazz pianist that gets the break of a lifetime only to die minutes after. It explores notions of the afterlife, the creation of personalities, and whether or not someone has one true purpose in life.


What I was hesitant about in the story was whether or not Joe Gardener was actually going to live or die because Disney has had a history of transforming people of color into nonhuman forms for much of their time on screen. For example, Princess Tiana is a frog for nearly half of “The Princess and the Frogand Kenai being a bear for most of “Brother Bear.” Watching Joe fall a sewer after just getting a gig aside from being a middle school band teacher, I was ready to criticize that.

       However, what kept me watching was Joe’s interaction with 22, a soul that doesn’t belong to anybody. 22 never wanted to experience life until she inhabits Joe’s body, and she sees what Joe sees in his day-to-day life. 22’s first experience with pizza, nature, and even a shaving razor felt like we were experiencing life for the first time with her.

     The whole movie focuses heavily on what it means to live. It explores what it means to live through purpose, through taking time to understand one’s life deeper than you may see it. Joe entering his own body after being a cat, playing his piano, and experiencing music more than he ever thought he could move me. It made him look at life differently and see why his passion for music gave him so much purpose and motivation to begin his outside career.

       Similar to Pixar’s “Inside Outand “Coco, “Soul” tackles a lot of complex themes that I could not really grasp or understand until I watched it again. However, Souldoes a great job of balancing out the different tones of the film. They balance darker and light-hearted scenes that just make you smile. 

       Even though I loved the movie and its approach to death, life, and purpose, I felt like there could’ve been more, including why Joe Gardner felt unsatisfied with being a teacher and wanted so badly to be a musician. I yearned for higher stakes and intensity. I wanted to see him and Dorothea sing and perform more than we were shown. Seeing Joe and black people in the salon doing their hair, especially in animation was really touching to me. I wish I saw more of black culture, like the barbershop, and the music.

      Going back to the common trope where people of color are transformed into animals, what I did not like was when Joe became a soul for nearly 30 minutes of the movie and a cat for 20. He was in his own human body at first 10 minutes and last 20-30 minutes of the movie, which proves my point that how harmful it is to perpetuate the idea that black and brown characters in Disney can only make room for them to be either animals or dead. 

      Besides those aspects, it was such an ambitious and innovative choice to talk about the themes of “Soul” and challenge people of all ages to think deeper. It is definitely worth a watch.