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:
- 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)
- Release to the cinemas anyway and hope enough people are willing to risk infection to see it. (Wonder Woman 1984)
- 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.