Review: “Soul”

Soul is a beautiful film of incredible depth, more depth than we’ve become used to from animated films – even Pixar’s. Gorgeously animated, wonderfully voiced (with contributions from some recognizable Bay Area theatre talent), and vibrantly scored, I think it would have been the least financially successful Pixar film to date had it been released to theatres. That doesn’t mean it isn’t an artistic triumph.

Despite the cutesy animation in parts and the occassional appearance of a younger character, this is in no way, shape or form a kiddie movie. The protagonists are adults, the story line is complex, the themes are existential, the animation is often Picasso-esque, and a main setting is a nether world of life-before-life and after-death. Its tale of a middle school music teacher (voiced by Jamie Foxx) whose life ends before it really begins (he thinks) questions the very meaning and purpose of life.

Pretty lofty stuff for a pre-teen or an elementary schooler. I think adults in a theater would be transfixed when they were not being distracted by their kids looking for talking toys or fish.

Coco, another beautiful Pixar film where death was a major component, had the advantage of having cultural folklore in support of its tale. Soul deals in the abstract – often the very abstract. There were times I had difficulty wrapping my head around it.

I think this is a film that may actually benefit from being watched in the home. It is a definite mid-film conversation-starter. I wonder what families will experience if they sit down together to watch this. Am I not giving kids enough credit here?

I guess what I’m saying is that this may be the first “adult” Pixar film. It will be interesting to see where they go from here. Will we see Cars 4 or a continuing maturation in animated films?

Streaming exclusively on Disney +

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