Review of 'Soul'

soul.jpg Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), a school music teacher, feels trapped in his life dreaming of becoming a professional jazz musician. When offered a chance to audition for jazz legend Dorothea Williams's (voiced by Angela Bassett) band he jumps at the chance and amazes Dorothea who offers him a job on the spot. While leaving the jazz club he falls into an open manhole and finds himself as an amorphous soul heading for the “great beyond”. Unwilling to give up his big break he escapes and finds himself in the “great before” where young souls are prepared for life on Earth. Joe poses as a mentor and is assigned 22 (voiced by Tina Fey) a cynical soul who has spent a millennium in the “great before” but has never completed her “earth badge”, not finding the missing “spark” despite having being mentored by the greats of humanity. Joe has no success with 22 so to help Joe return to earth they enlist the help of Moonwind (voiced by Graham Norton) in “the zone”, where people in a euphoric trance enter but where they can also become “lost souls”, black blanks mindlessly walking about. Joe hops back to earth but accidentally takes 22 with him with 22 returning to Joe's body while Joe enters the body of a therapy cat at the hospital where Joe has been in a coma. 22 uses Joe's body to revel in the sights and smells of Earth while Joe as a cat extols her to be careful. As the time ticks down to Joe's first jazz gig the two will have to figure out how to get Joe back into his body…

I had no idea what to expect with this film. I had heard that it was quite good but I had no idea just how much of an understatement that was. “Soul” is a delightful film that looks and sounds absolutely incredible. The sequences in New York are incredibly realistic (though populated by obviously cartoon characters) while the sequences in the afterlife simplistic, fun and imaginative. The voice talent on show here is absolutely incredible: Graham Norton, Jamie Foxx, Angela Basset, Tina Fey, and British comedian Richard Ayoade as the voice of the “great before” councillors. Great care and attention has also been taken with the jazz music performed which sounds and looks utterly convincing on the stage.

The real power of this film is in it's message about what is truly important in life and how to enjoy it. While guiding 22 Joe learns a great deal and is able to find his “spark”. Children will likely find some enjoyment in this film with some of the silly bits but there is a real message here for the older crowd. The emotional depth is incredible and may very well cause a bit of a tear to well up in your eye. A very human film.

A touching film with real emotional depth and looks and sounds absolutely great.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2023-04-29

Directed by: Pete Docter and Kemp Powers

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Year: 2020

Length: 100 minutes

Genre: Animation

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