The simplest way that I can describe this film is “beautiful inside and out”. After looking up the director Pete Docter after finishing watching the film, it came as no surprise that he also directed Monsters Inc, Up and Inside Out. The core of his previous films has been a gigantic heart full of emotion and this is exactly what you are left with at the end of the movie. Inside Out is one of my favourite Disney films due to the way that it portrays the emotions of people. It particularly resonated with me as my little girl was just about to turn 5 and it was like getting a manual on how she could be thinking.
More importantly, it was a great way to show kids that they didn’t have to be happy and smiley all the time, especially if they were feeling sad. This for me is where Soul excels. It gives a description of the afterlife that is simple, beautiful and hilarious. The moment where you pass over into the great beyond, looks like a fly hitting one of those bug zappers (it almost made me spit my drink out when it happened).
The story is fun and entertaining to watch from start to finish. with as little spoiler as possible, here is a quick overview – music teacher Joe (brilliantly voiced by Jamie Foxx) is unhappy with the idea of being offered a full time music teacher job, as he dreams of making it as a successful jazz pianist. After landing a dream gig he goes home to get ready and in the process of celebrating, lands himself in an unfortunate accident and on the path to the Great Beyond. Desperate to get back to his body he jumps off the path and lands himself in the Great Before. Here he meets Soul 22 (the always fantastic Tina Fey) and the adventure really begins.
The casting in the movie is so good. Jamie Foxx is great as Joe and the chemistry between him and 22 (Tina Fey) is perfect. That shouldn’t be surprising as they are both well known for being versatile actors. The voice that did surprise me was Graham Norton as Moonwind, the spiritual sign twirler that helps Joe in his mission to get back to his body. I had no idea it was Mr Graham Norton (he always uses full names) until the film finished and I saw his name on the credits. Add in Richard Ayoade and Alcie Braga (who both play counsellor Jerry in the Great Beyond), Angela Basset, Daveed Diggs and Phylicia Rashad, and it creates a winning formula.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this film looks stunning. Pixar seems to go from strength to strength when it comes to bringing something we can’t really explain to life. There is a shot when Joe is near the Great Beyond, that I can only imagine on a big screen, would have taken the audiences breath away. Also the different styles of animation used through the film are very clever, especially changing certain characters from 3D to 2D.
It would be wrong to not mention the music in the film. The jazz score has been composed by Jon Batiste and it is joyful. I’ve never been into jazz music but I can see this soundtrack appearing in car journeys in the not too distant future. The rest of the film’s score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is equally stunning. An original song has been written for the film by Cody Chesnutt called ‘Parting Ways’ which he wrote, produced and performed.
It must have been a bit of a blow that Disney weren’t able to show Soul in cinemas, but I believe this will be a massive hit on Disney+ and the perfect little Christmas present for the folks at Walt Disney Studios, as it is available from the 25th December. So after you’ve filled up on your Christmas dinner and stuffed that last mince pie in your mouth, pour yourself a festive drink and get snuggled up on the sofa with your loved ones, and enjoy this gorgeous film with the whole family.
Merry Christmas Everyone.