By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

From Disney/Pixar comes this magical movie that not only delivers laughs and entertainment galore, but also offers a deep and thoughtful reflection of life, death, and the true value of human life. Writer/director Pete Docter and co-writers Mike Jones and Kemp Powers have crafted another animated masterpiece that is sure to wow audiences for many generations. Actors Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey lend their skills to voice the lead characters, and in doing so add much love, heart, and wit to the movie. Soul, so far, has been the best animated feature I have seen this year and is also one of the better films release this year, period.

Foxx stars as Joe Gardner, a school music teacher who continues to dream about becoming a jazz superstar, but has also had his share of obstacles to overcome. On one lucky day, Joe gets to audition for Dorothea Williams’s band and gets chosen. However, a freak accident kills Joe, sending his soul to the “Great Beyond.” Refusing to give up his life, Joe manages to sneak into the “Great Before” where newborn souls are bred and trained for future lives on Earth. This is where Joe encounters 22 (Fey), a soul that has struggled with her development and has been held back from living for so long. Joe and 22 strike up a deal where she will help Joe get back to his life while she gets to remain in the “Great Before” where she really wants to be.

I absolutely loved this movie. I laughed so much and felt my heart brimming with warmth and love. The film also celebrates the simple pleasures in life that people often take for granted. Soul is a wonderful comedic film, but just like all great Disney/Pixar features, it appeals to the mind and heart on so many other levels. Docter, Jones, and Kemp have written a tremendous script that has loads of heart, but also a vivid imagination that creates a beautiful world beyond our terrestrial home. The animators bring this world to life with vivid, bright colors and fantastic character designs.

In addition, the film features an appropriately otherworldly score Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that is simply magical and amazing. Jonathan Batiste also contributes some lovely and tasteful jazz compositions and arrangements for Joe’s performances with his band. The mixture of music, colors, characters, humor, and love is a thoroughly beautiful experience to behold.

Both Tina Fey and Jamie Foxx bring their larger-than-life personalities to their characters, but also channel some more intimate and vulnerable sides. Both actors also utilize their comic skills and timing for the more riotous moments in the movie. The film also features great voice work by Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Phylicia Rashad, Donnell Rawlings, Questlove, and Angela Bassett.

Soul is getting released on Disney+ at the perfect time. While families will be stuck at home for the holidays, they will be able to enjoy and bond over a truly wonderful movie that will have them laughing, cheering, and perhaps crying a little. For sure, people will be talking about this delightful film and how it enriched their holiday season.

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