Pixar’s Soul: more than just an animated kid’s movie


Photo courtesy of Pixar

Soul movie poster

Pixar’s latest film, Soul, debuted on Disney+ on Dec. 25. The movie follows the life of jazz pianist Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx. Gardner is an aspiring professional musician working as a middle school music teacher in NYC who nearly dies after falling into a manhole. Throughout the movie, he encounters numerous obstacles, meets new people and learns life-changing lessons.

When the movie began, we expected it to merely cover Gardner’s attempt at making it big as a jazz musician. However, after his near-death experience, Gardner temporarily visits the afterlife. His scenic life in the city quickly shifts to the Great Beyond, a place full of deceased souls. This change in setting displayed flamboyant hues of blue and pink that were appealing to the eye and similar to Inside Out, another Pixar film. 

To avoid becoming a deceased soul for eternity, Gardner jumps into the Great Before and meets the unborn soul of a young girl, named 22, voiced by Tina Fey. 22 is afraid to travel to Earth because she enjoys the peace and certainty of the Great Before. She is sarcastic and witty, contrasting Gardner’s serious and focused personality. This juxtaposition introduces a lot of light-hearted humor to the movie. 

Together, Gardner and 22 visit Earth, and Gardner acts as a guide for 22, introducing her to the subway, the barbershop and his apartment. We didn’t expect the plot to develop into the adventurous and intriguing story that it did, but from the jazz music to their travels between the real world and the Great Beyond, it became impossible for us to peel our eyes away from the screen.

As the movie progressed, the original plot developed into something much greater. As Gardner begins to lead 22 around Earth, he watches her find joy and beauty in the simple things. She loves to watch leaves float down from tree branches, listen to a man on a subway platform play his guitar, and stare at the blue sky. 

Gardner, who lived his life in a rush and never appreciated these things, starts to question his life’s purpose. Though the movie seems simplistic, it conveys themes that are extremely thought-provoking and eye-opening. It forces the audience to question what it means to live a meaningful life and stresses the importance of celebrating the little things. 

Though this film was technically a children’s movie, it carried heartfelt and powerful themes that people of all ages can relate to. From the alluring animations to charismatic characters, the lessons of savoring every moment in life – good or bad – are still valuable and relevant to both adolescents and adults today.