The latest digital feature film from Pixar has arrived and Soul is another triumph for the studio. The story centers around a teacher named Joe (Jamie Foxx), who toils away teaching music to students at a middle school while dreaming of getting a meaningful gig as a Jazz pianist.
When the school offers Joe a permanent full time position with benefits he is depressed – while this is the stability his mother wants for him, Joe sees it as an end to his dreams if he accepts the position.
Fate steps in and Joe manages to land a gig with Dorthea Williams (Angela Bassett) which will give him his long sought shot.
Unfortunately for Joe, this time it’s Joe that steps into fate, in the form of an open manhole. He falls to an unexpected end, arriving on a great staircase on his way to the Afterlife. Not willing to accept that this should be the end of his story, Joe escapes and arrives in the Great Before, to a realm where new souls are given their unique traits before being sent to Earth to start their lives. Joe is mistaken for a mentor and assigned 22 (Tina Fey); a longstanding resident who has resisted many mentors over the ages and has refused to complete the needed step to begin life.
Joe and 22 must work with one another to set things right and this results in several funny and charming incidents both on Earth and in the Afterlife which are both filled with some great supporting characters that provide laughs and wisdom along the way.
“Soul” is in many way much like the music that inspires it as it is not as linear as one might expect. It tends to at times branch off into new directions while staying along a central theme before the parts reassemble. It succeeds because it does something Pixar is very good at: finding the human essence in a story and bringing it forth in a way accessible to everyone.
The animation is simply amazing as audiences have come to expect and Richard Ayoade, Graham Norton, and Alice Braga lead a strong cast of supporting players which makes Soul another winning entry for Pixar.