Is Disney Pixar’s Soul worth watching?

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(Artwork/Amy Zhou ’23)

Jason Ma, Online Staff Writer, Environmental Science Column Associate

Discordant jazz music transitions into a lackluster middle school band performance. The band teacher, Joe Gardner, is the main protagonist of the story, whose dream is to play professionally as the pianist in a jazz ensemble. Despite constant rejections and the disapproval of his own mother, he endlessly strives and obsesses toward this goal. One day, he gets the opportunity of a lifetime: the famous saxophonist, Dorothea William invites him to play in her quartet. 

Tragically, he falls into a pothole shortly after receiving this opportunity, and he finds his soul in the Great Before. The Great Before is a mystical, hill-covered, pastel blue and purple landscape. It is the area where souls are created before they are born and assigned traits that will be their future personalities. Here, he meets unborn soul #22, an annoying, bratty personality who refuses to go down to Earth. While 22 wants to stay in the Great Before forever, Joe Gardner wants nothing but to get back to Earth and play in Dorothea Williams’s jazz band. Their thrilling journey in the film together is filled with humor, excitement, surprise, and even looks into larger philosophical questions, such as: what is our purpose in life? How should we live? What is a soul?

All in all, Soul is a great movie. The attractive music, beautiful animation, and child-like presentation will entertain younger audiences, while the deeper messages will surely get adults thinking. Junior Sophie Zhang illustrates this point very well: “I think it’s enjoyable at the surface level both as a kids movie and at a deeper level of thinking for adults too.” Beyond this, the plot itself is enjoyable, and its classic Disney, feel-good ending leaves everyone happy. 

If I had anything to criticize about this movie, it would be that certain concepts and big ideas are left slightly underdeveloped, leaving me unsatisfied and wondering, for example: what is a spark? What does it mean to be in a state of flow? How does one differentiate between healthy passions and obsessions?  Despite these lingering questions, I still highly recommend Soul. It is a fun-to-watch movie that, at the same time, teaches us meaningful messages about how to enjoy life and live in the moment.

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