Disney Pixar’s “Soul”: Movie Review, A Touching Musical Tale

Disney Pixar's Soul

Throughout our lives, each one of us sets out, trying to find out some answers. What is Your Passion? What is Your Dream? Where do your interests lie? What is that little thing that makes you…YOU? Disney Pixar’s “Soul” takes us on a journey through various dimensions to answer life’s most important questions. The movie is centered on death, which makes use of fun characters to explain its narrative. Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out” spoke about one’s feelings and how they come about. In comparison, “Soul” talks about a soul’s feelings – their passion and interests. In a time when the world is filled with competition in every corner, this movie inspires one to pursue their passions in life. Through a metaphysical way, “Soul” exhibits the various moments of life such as contemplation and regrets and drives us to fight it by trying to savor every minute in life.

The Prologue

Disney Pixar’s “Soul” follows the life of Joe Gardner, a music teacher who dreams of playing the piano professionally. During his lecture, one of his students is laughed at when she gets lost in music during her solo. So, Joe narrates how he first fell in love with music while melodiously playing the notes on the piano. That’s when the class is interrupted by Principal Arroyo, who brings good news. She was offering Joe a full-time position as the band teacher. An offer supplemented with job security, medical insurance, and pension. But Joe doesn’t see it as his passion as he dreams of being a professional musician. His mom, Libba, thinks that he should definitely accept the offer as he would finally have a profession he has an interest in while keeping his gigging away. Joe agrees for the time being when an opportunity of a lifetime comes ringing in.

Disney Pixar's "Soul": Movie Review
Joe Gardner talks on his phone after nailing his audition.

It was his ex-student, Lamont Baker (Curly), who was now part of the Jazz Legend “Dorothea Williams Quartet.” He had an opportunity for Joe to be the Quartet’s pianist in their tour starting at “The Half Note”. Being the opportunity of a lifetime, Joe hurries to The Half Note and puts an enthralling solo performing trilling notes while in the zone. He is selected while being asked to be there at seven, wearing a good suit. Delighted, he strolls while talking on his phone. After avoiding some near-death experiences, he falls into a manhole.

The Great Beyond and The Great Before

Now stuck in the afterlife, he is in the form of a blue chibi himself. This form is the representation of his soul, which had been sent to the Great Beyond. A place where the soul lineup along a long cosmic walkway to white light. After enquiring about a few other souls, he realizes that he was nearly dead. When he looks at the white light, he refuses to accept death and runs back. During this, he falls off the walkway and is transported to another zone known as “The Great Before”.

Disney Pixar's "Soul": Movie Review
Joe reaches “The Great Before.”

“The Great Before” is a place that is filled with supervisory figures represented by two-dimensional shape-shifting lights. Also called “You Seminar”, this is a place where infant souls are assigned their personalities before they are sent to Earth. But before that, they are assigned a mentor to find their “Spark” which will help them gain their Earth pass.

The Spark

Trying to avoid being sent to The Great Beyond, Joe assumes the role of a mentor. And is assigned a problematic infant soul identifiable by her number, 22. She has rejected mentorship from many great figures in history like Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa. She puts on a façade as someone unwilling to find her spark and wants to stay in The Great Before. In due course of time, we see Joe attempting to help break her streak and find her spark. They both come to an understanding that 22 finding her spark would enable her Earth Pass that Joe could use. So both of them set forth to find her spark.

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The Zone

Disney Pixar's "Soul"
Joe and 22 as they about to enter The Zone

Unsuccessful in their attempts, they try to cheat by visiting a place called “The Zone”. It’s a space between the physical and spiritual where the boundary between the two is thin. This is the place where one arrives when one is too focused on a thing. This could either turn into something marvelous or an obsession. As for Joe, he identifies it as the place he was in during his audition. That’s when they meet Moonwind, a type of Shaman who is devoted to helping Lost Souls find their way back to Earth. A Lost Soul is one that is unwilling to let go of their anxieties and obsessions, leaving them disconnected from life. Joe being an untethered soul, one which is on the brink of death, needs to tune and find his body. He is successful in doing so, but other hurdles await him. In an attempt to return to his body, Joe’s soul ends up in a cat’s body while 22 enters Joe’s body.

Passion and Purpose

As the story moves ahead, we learn the different passions and purposes people have in their life. Joe’s student, Connie, was stuck wanting to leave music but soon goes back to it. As she loved doing it, which, according to Joe, was her purpose. His barber, Dez, who, according to him, was born to be a barber, actually wanted to be a veterinarian. That’s when we start to get an idea about the difference between a person’s passion and purpose.

We even have a scene where Joe confronts his mom wanting to pursue his passion. His mom finds about his gig and opposes his career when Joe is finally able to relay his feelings. He feels that his mom never understood what he wanted to do with his life. According to him, she always disapproves of what he wants to do and is the happiest when he doesn’t gig. Joe digs deep into his feelings as to even he, like his father, wanted to pursue his dreams. It was not about his career but his reason for living. Joe is afraid if he died today, his life would’ve amounted to nothing.

Disney Pixar's "Soul"
Libba hears her son’s plea to follow his dreams.

Desire to Live a Life

During their Journey, 22 experiences the little things in life. Live the taste of different food, walking, gazing at the sky, listening to music, and even getting scared in the subway. She realizes that life isn’t as bad as she felt like and actually likes it quite a lot. For thousands of years, she had been stuck at You Seminar, thinking she was not good enough for living. But now that she had got a glimpse of it, she doesn’t want to leave. Due to Joe, she feels like Spark and purpose are the same things; she feels her purpose could be walking or gazing. But Joe describes them as not purposes but regular old living. Having been in You Seminar for thousands of years, 22 has never felt this close to finding a purpose.

Later, Joe reminisces his life, remembering the little things he ignored while he was living. Be it being bathed by his mom, going to jazz with his dad, cycling, having food, or even his dad’s death. He regrets not appreciating the moments in his life as they arrived. And looking at things and distinguishing them as important and unimportant. He decides that from then on, he must live every minute of his life.

Disney Pixar's "Soul"
Joe reminisces his memories.

Disney Pixar’s “Soul”: Movie Verdict

Disney Pixar’s “Soul” is definitely a movie to check out. Giving out a beautiful meaning as to how one must appreciate themselves while living the little moments in it. It distinguishes how one’s purpose is not set out for them and could change as life goes on. Each person has their own spark, which is a drive to reach their dreams or goals. And while there are people who believe they are not good enough are wrong. As one is born, when they are ready to live a life. The movie even shows us how thin the line is between being in the zone and losing oneself. Being unwilling to let go of one’s obsessions and anxiety leads one to become a lost soul. A person who is distant from living life but is just driven by their obsession.

With amazing and goofy animation with an amazing voice acting by the cast, “Soul” has narrated a beautiful story. One which inspires people to spend their life by living every minute of it. The story carried a lot of meaning for an adult while being an animated movie directed towards kids. Disney Pixar’s “Soul” is available to watch on Disney+.

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Gokul Chettiyar
Hey! My name is Gokul Chettiyar. I'm a writer engrossed in niche TV Shows and Movies but indulge myself prominently with Anime.