Soul: Come for the astounding animation; stay for the identity crisis

Pixar creates a movie where one can laugh, maybe cry and question the meaning of life all in 107 minutes


Grace Nugent

Soul, starring Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey brings breathaking animation, a few laughs and a relatable storyline a roll it up all into a family friendly creaitve film. graphic by Grace Nugent

Grace Nugent, online co-editor in chief

Soul — a movie that makes you fall in love with Pixar animated characters while at the same time giving you an existential crisis. Hats off to Disney.

Pixar has managed to take perplexing meta-questions that keep both children and adults awake staring up at their ceiling (i.e. what is our purpose on earth? why do I exist? what makes us tick?) and create a children’s movie that will appease all ages. These ideas are crafted into an aesthetically pleasing, graceful kinesthetic landscape that is candy for the eyes and the soul.

Disney’s first dip into the self-reflective pool was the Pixar animation film Inside Out. Soul is like Inside Out, but instead of following someone’s emotions, we are introduced to dejected middle school band teacher and aspiring Jazz pianist Joe (Jamie Foxx). After falling into a manhole, he takes a dive into another realm and is met by rebellious, devious and misunderstood soul 22 (Tina Fey). 22 and Joe embark on an adventure that takes them from the ectoplasmic environment of the “Great Before” to the hustle and bustle of New York City as they struggle to find out what it means to live.

Jazz, not as known to the younger generation, brings the groove and artistic rhythm to Soul. Joe’s passion is jazz, and like Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian in La La Land and, both characters live and breathe musical notes and tend to prioritize their own vision above their relationships with others. The thing Soul does perfectly is making its viewer appreciate the small things in life. Bagels, the wind, subway performers, the grates that blow air that Marilyn Monroe stepped on. All of the things that we often overlook due to the fast-paced world we live in, Joe and 22 encounter in the most beautiful way.

Anna McClellan

Another thing that made Soul great was its setting. One of the things that sets Pixar apart from other animation studios is its breathtaking world-building. Soul takes place in the Great Before, a swirling mystical blue and purple landscape, and New York City. The New York of Soul is sunny and elaborate with the hectic traffic, honking horns, aggressive yelling, and pizza you can almost smell through the screen. This New York brings a smile to viewers as Pixar reintroduces us to one of the most iconic cities in the world in a whimsical, wonderful, introspective style.

Some of the cutest quirks that made me, a sometimes sarcastic and cynical 16-year-old, giggle centered around the bureaucratic, squiggly “camp counselors”: the Jerrys (played by the soothing voices of Wes Studi, Alice Vraga, and Richard Ayoade). There’s also a being named Terry (Rachel House), the accountant, who serves as the “villain” — and a very candy-coated one at that, but in true Disney fashion, he brings the laughs.

A special shout-out also is due to British talk show host Graham Norton, who voices Moonwind, the reincarnation of ‘60s hippie culture who you would find vibing to Jimmy Hendrix at Woodstock.

One could write for pages about how fabulous and colorful yet minimalist and metaphorical the animation is, but to sum it up, this movie is a work of art. The animation, character development, landscapes and music all work together seamlessly to create a movie that can be enjoyed and appreciated whatever the age