Soul: Disney Pixar’s Newest Masterpiece


Image by ParallelVision from Pixabay

As a hardcore Ratatouille fan, I initially hesitated when Disney+ presented me with Soul, one of Disney Pixar’s newest animated feature films. However, after it brought home two Oscars and a Golden Globe, it felt like the Universe was sending me a cosmic sign to finally give another Disney Pixar movie a chance. Featuring an incredible soundtrack and even more incredible animation, Soul is undeniably worth a watch, but unfortunately does not reach Ratatouille levels of perfection.  


Soul opens with a horrible, middleschool band class rendition of the Disney theme song, which immediately earns a laugh from viewers and transitions nicely into the film’s opening scene where the audience meets Joe Gardner (voiced by Jaime Foxx)a middle-aged band teacher who hasn’t quite given up on his dream of becoming a professional jazz pianist. Very early in the movie, Joe lands his dream gig to play in jazz legend Dorothea Williams’ bandbut before that can happen, Joe falls into a manhole and dies, causing his soul to leave his body (in the most PG way possible).  


Joe’s soul is carried to thentrance of the Great Beyond and is nearly trapped there for good until he escapes to the Great Before, the place where souls are created before they are born on Earth. There, Joe meets 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), a stubborn and mischievous soul who is adamantly against being sent to Earth. Joe is mistakenly assigned to be 22’s mentor in efforts to help 22 find her ‘spark’, the last piece of 22’s personality needed in order to allow her to go to Earth. However, Joe sees an opportunity to get back to his own body while fulfilling 22’s wish to stay in the Great Before, and teams up with 22 on a great adventure to restore Joe’s soul to his body. 


Overall, Soul explores much more profound themes than what would typically be found in a movie intended for kids, but it still manages to keep the movie light with some great one-liners (for example, Mother Teresa’s soul delivers a great sarcastic comment at 22). However, the best part of the entire film is its Oscar-winning soundtrack. 


Soul’s soundtrack is made up of two main musical styles: jazz music and airy, ethereal sounding electronic music. Between the two worlds of Earth and the Great Before, the music style changes. For instance, jazz music is predominantly played while the lead characters are on Earthand gentle electronic music played while they are in the Great Before. This kind of attention to detail is apparent throughout the film, especially towards the end, where both music styles begin to combine, creating one of the film’s best pieces, “Epiphany.” Needless to say, Soul’s soundtrackcomposed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross with jazz compositions and arrangements composed by Jon Batiste, is more than worthy of its 2021 Oscar for “Best Original Music Score. 


However, the run-time for Soul, sitting at an hour and forty minutes, is a bit too longA few scenes slow the movie’s pace, such as the scenes featuring the counselors in the Great Before, that should be cut or shortened. 


Soul earns a rating of 4/5 stars from me. Even though its run-time is a bit too long for my liking, the stunning animation and gorgeous soundtrack make up for the few extra minutes. With its thoughtful message of appreciating the moment you are in (rather than constantly looking for bigger and better things), Soul leaves a great impression on viewers, and will leave you thinking about the simply joys of life while listening to some incredible music.