Thank you to Disney•Pixar for giving me an early screening of SOUL to share my review!
We are in the pandemic year of 2020. We aren’t traveling or exploring. We aren’t gathering or experiencing music or the theater together. We are learning more about ourselves (whether we like it or not) everyday since we are currently stuck with ourselves day in and day out amidst mandated stay at home orders. This is good, but also a challenge.
For many of us, entertainment through streaming gives us insight and opportunities to relate to characters that look like us, act and feel like us, or who we aspire to be whether it’s career path, personality, experiences. Watching films are a way of escapism.
SOUL is one of those movies that cause reflection. We (the Black community) have anticipated its arrival and overall it is a wonderful film. There are always areas that *could* be improved when it comes to everything, and depending on who you are and where you are in life, and if you are Black or not I can guarantee your reaction and response to the film is going to be different.
My initial thoughts
Quiet coyote! *gasp* I didn’t cry the first or second time. If you know me you’re probably thinking wtf is wrong girl! My white husband was over in the corner tears welled up, talking about how this was the best Pixar movie ever and I was just like, yeah, first impression? It was good.
Then, I started thinking and processing and yep, watched it again. Still no tears. It didn’t REALLY pull my heart strings as dramatically as I had hoped… maybe I just had too high of expectations of Disney & Pixar overall after Inside Out and Big Hero 6 (yes. I know BH6 is not Pixar). I wanted to learn more about Joe and his relationship with his father, Ray (Rey?).
Should you watch it?
YES. I do still recommend it, and I think it’s good but there could have been SO MUCH MORE, especially for us as Black people and the importance of representation. There’s already been a ton of commentary and valid concerns on Disney’s history of transforming its Black characters to animals so I won’t even go there. I wanted to go deeper emotionally with it, I really did. But it’s not on the same level of Inside Out or BH6 in my opinion. And you know what? That’s totally okay!
It’s still a feel-good type of movie, and should cause any person that watches it to pause and reflect on what is driving them and whether or not they’re truly living their life. There are a few random things unanswered for me in the storytelling and I hope that we get a sequel or short where they’re answered and Joe is a black man 100% through and he runs into 22 once that soul is human.
*SPOILER ALERT – Questions BRAINDUMP*
If you haven’t seen this yet I am utterly confused because this review is definitely a month after the release…why are you slackin’?! Go watch it, then come back here and let’s chat! And if you’re an African-American mom, join the conversation in our community, Disney Moms of Color on Facebook!
- Who was Joe talking to when he fell in the hole? I don’t think it was Curley, he was there when he got the gig for Dorothea. He called this person “buddy” soooo if Lisa is a past love, then it has to be someone else?
- Why is Terry not called Jerry? Did I miss that?
- I almost choked seeing 22 mess with the Knicks. Makes so much sense. Haha! #Lakers4Life
- Moonwind Stardancer was my favorite character LOL! Let me join their mystic Tuesday meetings.
- I’m just as mad as Joe was when he became a cat. Nope. Not a fan.
- I loved the scene with Dez. He’s good people. We needed more barbershop time.
- I wonder if Paul is gonna be in the sequel since Terry got a hold of him. I need to know what happened to him. Poor guy. The all too common misidentification of a black man.
- Joe’s mama’s friend is a nasty old cougar! LOL!
While those are my initial shock and awe thoughts of the film, I always rewatch and dig deeper to find those little sparks of magic (see what I did there?🤣) and lessons from the film. I pulled out a few main themes from the film, perhaps you saw them too? I’ll keep adding to the list as I process and, yes, rewatch the film over and over!
- Don’t take for granted the “little things.” One of my biggest takeaways was to relish in the present and moments of everyday magic, like people watching, walking, breathing, eating. We live in such a fast moving, self-consuming world. We never stop to notice or appreciate the things that keep us going – literally. Soul’s 22 reminds us to appreciate every minute we are alive. Even through pain and confusion, we can have gratitude for growing and learning.
- Keep exploring. We continue to evolve as humans and so do our journeys. I feel like once Joe got his second chance to truly LIVE on his journey with the help of 22. In my life I’ve gone through so many things and while I haven’t been given a second chance to the extent of Joe, I have evolved because I continue to keep exploring.
About Disney/Pixar’s Soul
In Disney and Pixar’s “Soul,” a middle-school band teacher named Joe Gardner (voice of Jamie Foxx) finds himself in The Great Before, a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. It is there where he meets Terry (voice of Rachel House), who is charged with the singular duty of keeping track of the entrants to The Great Beyond. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (voice of Tina Fey) to show her what’s great about living. Directed by Academy Award® winner Pete Docter, co-directed by Kemp Powers and produced by Academy Award® nominee Dana Murray, p.g.a., “Soul” debuted exclusively on Disney+ (where Disney+ is available) on December 25, 2020.