Pixar’s “Soul” highlights the importance of embracing the small beauties of life and encourages self-reflection


Photo courtesy of Disney

Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx, and 22, voiced by Tina Fey, star in Pixar’s latest film “Soul”.

Isabelle Idio, Staff Reporter

Pixar’s latest film, “Soul” delves into deeper philosophical concepts surrounding our individuality and is unafraid to address the bigger questions about life that we all have in mind.


It follows the adventure of aspiring jazz pianist and music teacher, Joe Gardner, voiced by Jaime Foxx, who is given the opportunity of a lifetime to perform in New York City and pursue his dreams until one misstep down a manhole changes the course of his life. His soul gets sent to another dimension called the Great Before, which, like its name suggests, is the “before-life” where unborn souls reside to form their personalities and interests before getting sent to Earth.


In hopes of returning home before his big performance that could mark the start of his professional music career, he mentors a stubborn and bratty soul named 22, voiced by Tina Fey, to help her find her “spark” which is the last step a soul needs to go through before being sent to Earth. However, she shows a complete disinterest in all of the hobbies offered in the Hall of Everything and struggles to see the fascination humans have with life. Joe remains persistent in helping her find a passion remembering the joy that his passion for playing piano has provided in his life. 22 gets an opportunity to live life in Joe’s shoes, continuing to search for her spark and slowly starts to appreciate what it means to be human. She learns the impact a person can have on another after meeting people in Joe’s life, from barbers to street performers. Together, they experience self-exploration and reflect on what gives them joy in life. While helping 22, Joe is able to do some self-reflection on how he has spent his life so far and the film encourages viewers to do the same.


Although Pixar films are typically targeted towards families and young children, “Soul” can be appreciated by a wider audience, regardless of age. To children, the lively characters and goofy concepts of switching bodies or talking cats gives the film its appeal, but for teenagers and adults, the film provides philosophical depth. It explores the questions we may find ourselves asking: What makes life worth living? Why should we love life? In the beginning, 22’s pessimistic nature struggles with these problems and fears the disappointment life may bring, but as the story progresses her view starts to shift.


At first glance, it may seem like Joe is helping 22 discover what it means to live, but ultimately, Joe learns the lesson we all need to hear. He realizes that his passion for music isn’t what makes his life complete, instead, it’s the simple experiences that often slip our mind, like bringing joy to those around him. “Soul” strays away from the idea that passion fuels purpose, which is often portrayed by the media and instead presents a refreshing alternative to how we should live. The animated movie encourages the appreciation of the small treasures in life, in 22’s case, these joys can be as simple as sky-watching or even walking. 

We can get lost in the repetitive routine that school or work requires, but “Soul” reminds us to take a step back and recognize what life has to offer. 


The film has a rather simple and predictable plot which only amplifies its better elements and allows viewers to focus on the message it’s sharing. It has a beautiful original soundtrack and oftentimes, the music is able to encapsulate Joe’s thoughts and emotions without any dialogue. The incredible animations during the transitions between dimensions are breathtaking and clearly separates the different environments of the two worlds. In the Great Before, the scenery is made of bright pastel colors and simple designs illustrating the calm ambience. In contrast, New York City is animated with intricate details accurately representing the complexity of everyday life.

 Overall, the effective delivery of its message and the impact it has on its viewers makes “Soul” an eye-opening, thought-provoking and memorable film, and is worth watching all 107 minutes of it which is available for streaming on Disney+.