Starring Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Richard Ayoade, Angela Bassett
Jazz is erratic, improvised and free, and the plot of the newest Pixar feature Soul definitely moves in the same extemporising way. Letting its story move in whichever direction it chooses and using hilarious cut scenes and soulful substance to furnish the concept.
When jazz musician Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) finally get his big opportunity, he falls down a manhole and prepares to enter 'The Great Beyond'. Only he's not prepared, and instead falls into 'The Great Before' where he uses his new privilege to make it back into his body. It's here that Joe meets a feisty soul named 22, voiced by a terrifically enthusiastic Tina Fey. Their relationship does not feel as wholesome as so many Pixar partnerships have in the past, but this again relates to jazz music and the clash that is created when they come together. It is however in the cut scenes involving 22 and her past mentors that the film creates the most laughs.
The flow of the story is helped along by Moonwind, voiced by a pleasantly surprising Graham Norton. His comedic timing is note perfect and adds a bit of backbone and explanation to the fluidity of the story. Norton is already a legend, and this has just furthered the respect for him.
The score, composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is exquisite. It blends into the background as jazz music can so easily do but dominates the foreground when it's placed centre stage.
But what dominates more of that limelight is the animation. Never has Pixar looked so good. There's something so real about the humans on Earth and the imperfections on character's faces are captured with such individuality and care. The barber scene in particular explores the energy found within a black community and such fun and individual characters. Their tremendously varying head sizes for example are both physical and metaphorical representations of the characters surrounding Joe.
Soul is fun and buoyant and above all else, has a message that cuts so deep you'd be soulless not to relate to it. Although the concept could be a little complex for younger families, it's a really enjoyable watch for those a little older; this is definitely Pixar's most adult film to date, and that lets Pete Docter and the extremely talented team at Pixar reach boundaries that they've never been able to hit before.
The film states that "Music moves people" so let that music move you and take you on its journey, and the story will slot into place.
Soul available now on Disney+