This one comes from the Pixar Studios, which as far as I can remember, has never put a foot wrong. The film was supposed to be out last summer, but suffered the same fate as a lot of movies set for a June outing: faced with the prospect of empty cinemas, the studios delayed the release, hoping that the pandemic would be sorted by Christmas.

Well, for the UK and the US . . . not even close. So with no end in sight, the studios have three options:

  1. Keep delaying the film until audiences can return to the picture houses, and hope they’re still interested in seeing it. (No Time to Die)
  2. Release to the cinemas anyway and hope enough people are willing to risk infection to see it. (Wonder Woman 1984)
  3. Release it to a streaming service and see if it attracts new customers.

Pixar went for option number 3 (which they can do since they can stream on Disney+), and frankly, they deserve to have the gamble pay off.

With an all-star voice-over cast including Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton (yes, him), Angela Bassett and Phylicia Rashad, Soul tells the story of Joe Gardner,

a music teacher and frustrated jazz musician who dies hours before the biggest gig of his life. He finds himself mistakenly transported to the ‘before life’, where he has to mentor a soul waiting to be born.

What can I say? Like every Pixar film, this is top-notch family entertainment. It’s got heart. It’s got humour. It’s got drama. It’s got moments of beautifully scripted sadness. It’s got a poignant message that adults could learn from, hopefully before it’s too late; and might lead to a more happier life for children, if the message doesn’t go over their heads.

It’s beautifully animated, endlessly surreal and it has a really fat cat. What more do you want?

Yes, I loved it, but that’s no real surprise for a Pixar flick. What did surprise me was the soundtrack. Sprinkled liberally with easy jazz (courtesy of Jon Batiste) and then, weirdly, a kind of trance synth-pop fusion (there’s probably a proper name for that – answers on a postcard) by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. It shouldn’t work, but my god, it does.

The concept and the artistry is original and weirdly inspirational; I love the idea that when you die, you get to keep your hat.

Soul is the 2020 Christmas movie. If you don’t have Disney+ then sign up for a free trial and watch it. You’ll be glad you did.

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