• Animation, outside of Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon, often lacks the singular artistic voice. That is not the case with Soul. Soul is clearly the companion of 2015’s Inside Out and the work from the creative mind Pete Docter.
  • The story questions the life of the fedora-wearing, jazz teacher Joe. Joe is an aspiring musician. An accident befalls Joe and we’re quickly in the sub-genre of post-life examination films (if you enjoy this subject, you should seek out Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life or even Capra’s masterpiece It’s A Wonderful Life).
  • Docter goes back to the dark color blue again and again within the film. When Joe loses himself improvising at the bar the Half Note, the background turns blue. There is a blue hue to the flashback scene, and the blue day for night animation substitution is used heavily in the visually impressive “lost soul” section.

Docter has clearly selected his color palatte here- this is Joe’s improvisation scene at the Half-Note

…the stunning lost soul section

  • Thematically, again, this is a cousin to Docter’s 2015 film—using Pixar’s figurines and moments of clever levity to tackle subjects like the inner working of emotions, and here, death.
  • Here, Doctor is aided by Kemp Powers as co-writer and co-director. Powers had a big 2020 working on both this and One Night in Miami (which he wrote).

Docter is infinitely resourceful, Pixar is a obviously big box office and part of the “machine”- but this is brimming with ideas and avant-garde touches (even the little nod to Picasso with the shape of the after-life characters). This has as much in common with Yellow Submarine and anything broad and generic.

  • There are long stretches of out of body-joke schtick that is reminiscent of the banter between Whoopi and Swayze in Ghost or 1984’s All of Me with Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin. This is Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey here.
  • It is a poignant ode to teachers and teaching
  • Recommend but not in the top 10 of 2020