Review: 'Soul' is an ambitious, strange and wondrous Pixar experience

Soul (Photo: Disney/Pixar){ }

4 out of 5 Stars
Pete Docter, Kemp Powers
Writer: Pete Docter, Mike Jones, Kemp Powers
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Daveed Diggs, Angela Bassett
Genre: Animation, Drama, Comedy
Rated: PG for thematic elements and some language

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Joe continues to chase his dreams of becoming a touring jazz musician while working part time as a middle-school band teacher. Offered a full-time position, Joe considers giving up on his dreams.

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Review: In an earlier phase of life I worked in record store. From time to time my co-workers and I would branch out from our preferred genres to explore the vast landscape that is music. Often it was jazz record. We, despite our radically different tastes, started to go to jazz shows together. It was a magical journey. A time that I miss.

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So, when Joe (Jamie Foxx), a middle school band teacher, reveals that he’d rather be on the road, in the clubs, at the bandstand or whatever the space if he could just make music, I completely understand. When his mother chastises him for holding on to his dream too long. I understand that too. Sometimes the things we do to pay the bills are far removed from what we identify as to ourselves.

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“Soul” is another wonderful film from Pixar. It’s about what came before life, life and the afterlife all at the same time. It is about soul and what is soulful. It is an exploration of what it means to be inspired and the constant searching for a reason and purpose to existing.

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It’s also far more approachable than it sounds. “Soul” is the story of a man who is accidently given a second chance. It’s also about an accountant in heaven who must balance the books and a soul (Tina Fey) that has delayed being born for decades. It is a story that never goes a planned or as expected. Well, that’s not entirely true. Pixar has a reputation for plucking the audience’s heartstrings when they are least expecting it. “Soul” does that too.

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Visually, “Soul” is the most experimental film that Pixar has done to date. The scenes that take place on Earth are what you’d expect from the studio who have defined the look and feel of modern animated films. The world in between is more abstract. Souls looks like plush dolls and the afterlife employees have more in common with Picasso than they do with “Toy Story” or even “Inside Out.” I’m completely onboard. I think you will be too.

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