When Life Really Begins: A Review of Soul

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Kayla Snyder, Writer

The American Animator and film director Pete Docter has created another masterpiece with his 2020 film Soul. Docter is the director of films such as Inside Out, Brave, Up, Monsters Inc., Toy Story 2, and even the award-winning short film Bao. all of which are notable for their deep and weighty storylines. Soul is one of his most recent films. It is an animated movie released on October 11th, 2020. Due to Covid-19, the movie was released directly onto Disney+ and did not come to theaters in countries with the streaming service. However, the film still got the credit it deserved, with around 16.7 million full runs streamed the week it came out.

To sum it all up, a pianist named Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx, dies notably early into the film, which is a great twist. He ends up meeting a new soul, #22, voiced by Tina Fey, who is the only one smart enough to realize life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. They find a way to get Joe back to Earth but pull a full Freaky Friday; #22 ends up inside Joe’s body while he ends up in a therapy cat’s. They spend the entire day preparing for a jazz performance Joe was accepted to perform at. They face many challenges along with some eye-opening experiences.

This movie tackles massive themes. What is the purpose of life? Are we just here to complete our goals or experience the beauty of life itself? Although these deep topics could go over kids’ heads, I enjoy how it really makes you think about life and how you’re using your time. It has its funny moments too, like taking cheap yet humorous shots at the Knicks basketball team. As well as Abraham Lincoln becoming furious after finding out Andrew Jackson is on the $20 dollar bill. Along with the films’ comical moments, it also manages to capture amazing, unique graphics along with a soundtrack that makes you feel like you just entered a jazz club. You can tell how much hard work and diligence was put into this film.

When Joe first dies, he looks back at memories of his life and sees one of him sitting alone at a diner. When he sees it, he gets sad, but when he thinks about the memory later on, we see his smile while enjoying a piece of pie and looking out at the beautiful lit-up city. I love how we see that perspective and the message it gives us that the little things can make a moment so much more meaningful. Another part I loved was when the character Dorothea, voiced by Angela Bassett, told Joe Gardner the story of the two fish. “He swims up to the older fish and says, ‘I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean’ ‘The ocean?’ says the older fish, ‘that’s what you’re in right now.’ ‘This?’ says the young fish. ‘This is water. What I want is the ocean.'” This is something more people need to hear. We often take what is right in front of us for granted because we are so focused on other things. Joe says earlier in the film he can’t wait to start living even though he is a middle-aged man. He’s wasted half of his life not fully living.

What I took away from this movie is that even if you don’t know your purpose, don’t wait to begin living. Everyone fears not leaving their mark, but you don’t have to be a famous musician or a historical figure to make a difference in the world. Just be kind, stay positive, and acknowledge all the wonderful moments the world has to share with you.