‘Soul’ inspires self reflection

New Pixar film digs deep into life and death


Fair use from Disney / Pixar.

Ben Sanford

After the release of movies like “The Good Dinosaur” and sequels to many of their other films such as “The Incredibles 2” and “Finding Dory,” it seemed that Pixar Animations was headed down a path of mediocrity. However, films like “Coco,” “Onward” and the studio’s newest feature “Soul” seem to be finding their way back to the innovative and inspiring stories Pixar has been telling for decades.

“Soul” follows Joe (Jamie Foxx), a middle school band teacher with an intense passion for jazz and a special gift for playing the piano. After finally booking a career-changing gig, Joe stumbles into a premature death, where he finds himself in a cosmic afterlife, being told he must go to the “Great Beyond.” Feeling ill prepared for death, Joe does everything he can to avoid his fate, which leads him to understand the value of the life he lived.

I have been a fan of Pixar’s films since early childhood, and iconic movies like “Ratatouille” and “WALL-E” have impacted from my first viewing as a six or seven-year old until now. The creative, unique structure and plot of the films has influenced the way I view art, and the impeccable messages continue to shape the way I view my life. Although not inspiring to the same lengths, “Soul” accomplishes a similar feat, forcing me to look into my own brain and experience of the world around me. The film explores what it is like to lose hope and motivation as we age and find stability, but digs into the simple joys of life like pizza, nature and music. The story feels universal for any person of any age, making it that much more inspiring. 

Along with its phenomenal message, the visuals of the movie are brilliant in and of themselves. From sweeping shots of the afterlife to subtle specificities of the human earth, the animation constantly finds wonder in the smallest of details. 

“What happens when we die” is a question we all ask ourselves at least once in our lives and this film does an amazing job of discussing that question without coming to a definitive answer. It gives us a look into what the pain of death can look like, but it also shows us the beauty of moving on to something new in a way that seemed accessible to both children and adults. 

Pixar constantly makes films that start conversations for families, whether that be how to deal with grief in “Up” or environmentalism in “WALL-E,” and “Soul” is no different. With its voice cast showing true passion, its direction being inspired and intentional, I felt this film accomplished everything it intended to. There is no doubt that this movie will end up being a classic for the generation of kids watching Pixar movies for the first time and is one I will be returning to whenever I need a pick-me-up.


“Soul”: ★★★★☆