Rating: A- if this came out any other year, but an A for 2020!
Summary: A musician is transported out of his body and must find his way back to Earth in time for his breakout performance.
As if we couldn’t reflect a little more on ourselves this year, Pixar decides to come out with a film about the meaning of passion, the threads of life, and what it really means to be fulfilled. I loved this movie and not just because Trent Reznor did the soundtrack for it (very future-y, very Moog-y, very Trent, 10 out of 10), or because Richard Ayoade has the best lines, or because someone finally paid sign spinners the respect they deserved.
There’s a universal level of poignancy that Pixar is able to hit with a lot of their works, where it doesn’t matter who the protagonist is or what shape the characters are- the stories engage with viewers of all ages. They are films that retain audiences not only because they are fun to watch, but because there’s always another layer, another meaning that we only realize with age, experience, and repeat viewings. We’ve mostly seen this in the Toy Story series, which so expertly addresses nostalgia, childhood, and just… all facets of life, basically.
We can add Soul to the list for the same reasons, although I don’t know if Kid Kelly would have enjoyed it too too much. There are funny moments and hi-jinks, just maybe not at the level of frequency I required when I was a kid. It is a bit of a slow burn though- like, the climax of this really crept up on me. When everything finally clicked for our protagonist, it just felt soooOOoooOooOOOOooo good and the floodgates released. Soul is certainly more for adults in the same vein as Up, where it requires a bit of life experience for the overall message to really resonate. You know, at least one career pivot or reassessment of life’s priorities to figure out what was really important at the end of the day, if not a night of heavy drinking wondering, “BUT WHAT DOES EXCEL REALLY DO FOR ME!?”
I really wish I had been able to see this in theaters- but I have absolutely no regrets about watching this at all.