★★★★ | by Emma Levett
Posted on Jan 2, 2021
Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz — and he’s good. But when he travels to another realm to help someone find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.
Soul for me has a loveable concept and is a triumph by Disney. Albeit the film wasn’t continuously humorous or laugh out loud funny, I felt like I had a smile on my face throughout. The film begins with Joe Gardner(Jamie Foxx) a teacher of music, attempting to drive his passion of Jazz through kids, but unfortunately do not match his enthusiasm (with the exemption of one). Joe gets offered a permanent post in teaching at the school and whilst most people would celebrate this outcome, the opening scenes help the audience characterise Joe as somebody who wants more from life and feels stuck in his job.
Joe’s luck is overturned when he receives a call up to a gig audition. Joe deems this as his big break, but to the displeasure of his mother , who believes that her son should opt for the sensible route in life of being a full time music teacher. Joe’s gig pending, unfortunate events follow where he finds himself in another realm. Joe is heading to the ‘light’ but is thrust into a land where which its inhabitants are billions of souls. This is where we meet the winsome soul ’22’ (Tina Fey), who Joe has to mentor to find her spark. In order to travel to Earth, soul 22 has to have the complete package and earn her pass to life. No other mentors in history have been able to help 22 find her spark, which forms an alliance between them and a deal is struck to appease Joe’s obsession of making his audition and 22 never having to deal with life or Earth.
The journey from then on is what makes this a 4* instead of a 5* as the plot did drag and caused me to be frustrated in places. The lack of comedy can be forgiven because the message of the film is so deep and fulfilling, but the length to which Joe goes to, to get to his audition could have allowed for some humility and fun.
The whole film was an overwhelming indicator for me that it was aimed at adults but through a child’s creation. It’s as though Disney grouped together with the most adorable of kids with the most vivid of imagination and asked them to explain what life and death is. But instead of disregarding it entirely, Disney made us listen. There are several underlying morales in this 100-minute masterpiece, but the key one is for us adults is to be present, follow ‘your spark’ and do what makes you happy if it brings out the best in you and others. This film will make you reflect on your own life and make you question everything! For that Disney, I thank you.
Don’t worry, they’re fine. You can’t crush a soul here. That’s what life on Earth is for – 22 (Soul)