As we reached the beginning of what hopefully will be the final stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, the storied studio behind some of your favorite animated features made the surprise decision to release Soul, the latest entry in the Pixar canon, for free to people that already subscribe to Disney+. It was a move that was no doubt calculated by the Mouse Overlord to draw in more subscribers to a service that is still struggling to find success outside of The Mandalorian.
When I finally sat down to watch the movie, I was relieved to find out that these worries turned out to be baseless, as Pixar has once again hit it out of the park with Soul. Or so I think.
The problem was that I watched it with my nephews. Love ‘em to death, of course, but I will be the first to admit that they do not sit through movies very well. At six and four years old, they can think of a billion other things that they would rather be doing at any given time. Pixar has always struck an excellent balance between appealing to children and appealing to adults, but it seems like this balance was offset a tiny bit with Soul. My nephews appeared even less interested than usual thanks to themes of death, existentialism, and life purpose, and the jokes seemed a bit more subdued this time around. Soul is definitely one of Pixar’s more thematically mature movies, and this might be a problem for some kids.
As a movie for adults, however, Soul shines. One thing I was struck by is how pretty everything looks. From the light playing off of a saxophone to the austere simplicity of the beforelife (you know… instead of afterlife) to the character models, the animation is brilliantly done. The movie also sounds great thanks to a beautiful score by Trent Reznor and Jon Batiste, and to the excellent voice acting featuring Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, and Graham Norton. All of these things made me a bit sad that the film wasn’t released in theaters, in fact, as I’m sure it would have been beautiful to look at and listen to on the big screen.
The story of Soul is touching, although that’s probably obvious, this being a Pixar movie and all. Again, I did not catch all of it because of the two rowdy boys, but what I saw I appreciated. The only problem is there might be too many messages the movie tries to convey simultaneously, and as a result the end made me feel like it wanted to make me to cry instead of doing so organically.
But there is no doubt that Soul is a great movie. Your kids may even love it, too. Maybe the nephews just had too much sugar or something.
Soul is now available on Disney+.