‘Soul’ offers animation and life advice

I thought college was the root cause of my mental breakdowns, but since the new Pixar Animation movie “Soul”, I haven’t been able to stop rethinking my whole life.

“Soul” brings up existential questions everyone struggles to answer at least once in their lifetime, like: why do I exist? What is my purpose? The kind of considerations, for college students especially, run through our heads all the time.

“Soul” came out on Dec. 25, just in time for stay-at-home family Christmases.

It takes place in a busy and chaotic New York City. The movie follows Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a jazz musician and middle school band teacher, who just wants to catch his big break. His luck seems to be turning around, after he is offered to play piano with Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett) for a show.

Joe ends up falling into a manhole on his way home and finds himself on a walkway moving toward the great beyond. He freaks out and tries to get back to his body but ends up in the “great before,” which is where new souls are created.

Joe pretends to be someone else and mentors a new soul in finding their spark to get their world pass to start living. He ends up being partnered with 22 (Tina Fey), a soul that has no interest in going to Earth and has already had thousands of mentors. 

22 decides to help Joe get back to his body. During the process of opening the gateway between the spiritual and physical universes, Joe knocks over 22 with him. Joe’s soul ends up inside a cat and 22 ends up in Joe’s body.

They both go on to try to switch so 22 can go back into the great before, and Joe can get back into his own body. During this time, 22 gets to actually experience the one thing they has been dreading. 

While helping Joe out, 22 began to find themself. They discovered what pizza tastes like and began to think maybe Earth isn’t so bad. That maybe life is just about living.

This whole movie, with the various animated interpretations of the souls, reminded me a lot of “Inside Out” because of the more abstract characters. The animation throughout the film was amazing. I was struck by how cute the souls looked and how many details there were, right down to the cat’s whiskers. 

The characters were well developed and accurately represented the diversity of the real world, which is important. The audience could connect with Joe and how passionate he is, while also sensing how stubborn 22 is. 

At one point Joe and 22 are looking at moments in Joe’s life and Joe begins to think his life is meaningless. Once he gets back into the physical world, he says “if I died today, then my life would have amounted to nothing.” I’m not gonna lie, this part was heavy. It really hit me hard. 

At the end, the movie title is finally shown, once Joe finally decides to start living. This movie had an important message: the meaning of life is simply to live.

By the time I was done watching, this movie had made me rethink some aspects of my own life, which might have been exactly what I needed. “Soul” is heartwarming and appropriate for all ages, and I encourage everyone to see this potentially life-changing film.

Rating: 5/5 stars