Soul is a 2020 Pixar animated movie directed by Pete Doctor and co-directed by Kemp Powers. Doctor is best known for directing the well-received Up and Inside Out. The premise of Soul involves a middle school music teacher named Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), who dies just before his big break as a jazz musician, but attempts to return to life with the aid of an ‘infant’ soul (voiced by Tina Fey).
Explaining the basic idea of Soul can be somewhat a challenge as the world building is convoluted, obtuse and ultimately illogical. This concept is predicated on a halfway existence between death, life and the ‘great beyond’. Of course, the idea itself is not new – remember Heaven Can Wait? – but the execution is flawed and inconsistent.
It seems that in an attempt to come up with something new (and religiously neutral), the Doctor and Powers have tied themselves (and their movie) up in knots. Compare this presentation of the afterlife with that of Coco, where the concept is rooted in cultural tradition and resonated strongly with critics and audiences alike.
In Soul, the foundation of the premise makes no sense as the story progresses. For example, if it is so easy for Gardner to resist travelling to the great beyond, why is he the only one to do so? Surely, there would be thousands of souls refusing to accept death and the folks in charge would have a rebellion on their hands and considering their failed response with handling Gardner, this would result in chaos.
This is only one example of the flawed logic that underpins the film. I hesitate to explore any further as that would only spoil the movie. Suffice to say that if you enjoy trite sentimentalism that tugs on your heart strings manipulatively but offers nothing substantive in terms of thought provocation, then Soul is the movie for you!
… still there’s more …