I was sold on Soul from the moment it was announced. A Pixar film starring Jamie Foxx, revolving around music, contemplating the meaning of life, and being somewhat set in New York? My ticket would have been purchased within seconds of release. And while this isn’t the way I planned on watching it, it certainly didn’t miss the mark. For starters, its release straight to Disney+ allowed me to watch with my parents, who probably would never have heard of it otherwise. This film will be accessible to anybody with a subscription, and that’s a great thing, because this is a film that needs to be seen by all, but moreso, deeply appreciated and cherished. Serving as his fourth time in the directing chair for Pixar, Pete Docter locked me in a vice grip and got me to sob, yet again. He has way too much power over me it seems, but I’m not complaining if it stems from films like this.
Soul is his successor to Inside Out, and it makes sense as to why. With all his films, but especially the latter two, Docter clearly wants to get to the bottom of the meaning of life. And while that may be a question with no definitive answer, it feels like he’s gotten very close to figuring it out. This is a film that feels far beyond Pixar, which is saying something considering their track record. For a concept so large and encompassing, it feels like a film that is deeply personal and uniquely relatable to all those who watch it. It made me miss my city. It made me look within and think about what I truly love. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me want to live everyday better than the last.
In a year where much has been unfortunately taken from us, both literally and figuratively, Soul feels like a film made to combat that anger or sadness. For me, it’s making me think of all the growth I’ve done over the course of a year, which may have been lost in return for a night out in any capacity. It makes me think of the relationships I’ve built over the course of my life, from loved ones to the best of friends, to co-workers and casual acquaintances, or even the strangers I would see on my daily commute. It’s a film with such grand ideas that somehow reminds you to cherish the minutiae of life, from a great slice of pizza to the beautiful breeze. For me, this film is deeply invigorating, and makes my mind move at a mile a minute, and for good reason.
Part of the reason I always wanted to write, and by that line of thinking, begin our podcast, is because of appreciation. I’m a simple man to please, and by that, I mean that I simply love to enjoy things. Many friends and family like to poke fun that I always say everything is the best, or everything/everyone is the GOAT, or better yet, they say I rarely ever dislike things. And while that is certainly not true (everybody knows I love a hot take and have plenty), to some extent, I do adore a majority of things as much as possible. Why? Because it’s simply more fun to live that way. I treat every meal I love as if it’s the best meal I’ve ever had. When a movie genuinely strikes me in my core, I scream about it from the hilltops to hopefully get someone else to watch it and be moved. The same can be said for a new piece of music I find, or a great book I power through. Over the course of my life, I have found that the best way to enjoy it is to simply enjoy as much as you can in any given day, and be thankful for it all. When commuting to work was still an option for us all, the time spent back and forth was considerable, and quite frankly, some days on the “lovely” New York subway that spans the city can obviously hamper one’s day. But I would always try and keep an eye out for the one idiosyncratic thing I saw. Whether it would make a great story, or just put a small smile on my face, it left its impact. And if you start doing this repeatedly and form a habit, you begin to realize these moments aren’t random, but instead go on all the time around us. It’s obviously a benefit to live in a city that is constantly moving such as New York, but it’s a notion I’ve kept wherever I go, or even when I’m lost in my own mind in my room alone.
It’s moments like this that you could get lost in for hours. Soul even touches upon a similar notion during its runtime that absolutely flies by. I couldn’t believe the tonal switch that occurred at a specific moment, and then before I realized, the gorgeous experience was over. There are moments of pure, genuine beauty littered throughout this film, like every single nightclub sequence. There’s a scene reminiscent of a visual poem that made me think of my first viewing of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (which made me sob just as much). This film moved very quickly at first, but by the time it ended, I instantly realized how engrossed I was in the world and its characters. It’s a film that sneaks up on you, even if you’re used to Pixar’s ability to toy with emotions so wonderfully. If you’re wondering why this piece felt more personal than discussing the film, it’s because this is a film that deserves to be experienced on your own. I simply made this as more of an appreciation for all who listen to our podcast, read our writings, buy our merch, and more. It’s a thank you to all those who have made my life as incredible as it is, both friends and family and even strangers on the Internet and throughout the city. I try to show them as much gratitude as I can, but I hope this is a good stand-in if I haven’t recently. When it comes to a film doing all it can to convey a message, Soul achieves its goal with flying colors, and it’s a genuinely simple one that we could all constantly improve in. Because loving life, however difficult at times, is one of the few things that feels like it truly matters.
Soul is now streaming on Disney+.