Soul first of its kind on the animated screen


2020 Disney/Pixar

In Disney and Pixar’s “Soul,” a middle-school band teacher named Joe finds himself in The Great before-a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22, to show her what’s great about living. Featuring Tina Fey as the voice of 22, and Jamie Foxx as the voice of Joe Gardner, “Soul” will debut exclusively on Disney+ (where Disney+ is available) on December 25, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Yasemin Ragland, Staff Writer

My family recently watched Disney Pixar’s Soul, which was released straight to Disney+ on Dec. 25. Soul was an amazing film, I was very excited to see it when the first official trailer was shown before a showing of Frozen 2

Soul follows Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a jazz pianist and middle school band teacher, whose soul winds up heading to the “Great Beyond” following an accident, right after landing a chance to perform with a local jazz band. Not wanting to die right after getting his big break, Gardner attempts to flee from the Great Beyond, only to wind up in the “Great Before (most of the soul consolers there are named Jerry.), where all unborn souls begin. 

Gardner meets and is set to mentor an unborn soul 22 (Tina Fey), who doesn’t want to go to Earth and live. Gardner and 22 make a compromised plan where he helps 22 earn her Earth pass, then she will hand it to him so he can use it to reunite with his body and she stays in the Great Before, therefore they both get a “win.” 22 was mentioned to have many historical figures such as Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Muhammad Ali, Copernicus, Archimedes and Marie Antoinette as her past mentors before Gardner. 

In previous Pixar films, Black characters and characters voiced by Black actors were only side characters. For example, Lucius Best aka Frozone (voiced by the one and only Samuel L. Jackson) from The Incredibles movies has major roles in both films, but is not the main character, and his wife is mentioned but barely makes an appearance, and her voice is only heard off screen (there is concept art of her for Incredibles 2, but it was used for a background super). The characters Ducky and Bunny from Toy Story 4 are voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele respectively, but are also side characters. 

I was really happy when I found out Soul has not only a diverse cast, but also a predominantly Black cast, including Phylicia Rashad, Donnell Rawlings, Questlove, Angela Bassett, Daveed Diggs, Margo Hall and Rhodessa Jones.

Soul has tons of comedy and a great soundtrack. One part that stuck out to me is when Connie, one of Gardner’s students comes to Gardner’s apartment to tell him she’s quitting band class. After playing some music for Gardner, she decides not to quit. When Connie leaves, 22 asks why Connie came to quit but ended up not quitting. Gardner tells her it is because Connie loves doing what she does. 

Even though Angela Bassett is known to Marvel fans as Ramonda, Queen Mother of Wakanda in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no one could have played Dorothea Williams, the highly respected leader of the local jazz band, better than her.

Soul also talks a lot about “the spark”: the thing Gardner thinks someone was born to do. Later, he realizes that life is short, so he should enjoy it while it lasts. Critics describe Soul as “one of Pixar’s finest and ‘most ambitiously existential’ films,” and the way it was animated is beautiful.  

For example all the Black characters had different skin tones and body types like in real life; some even had natural hairstyles. Soul is an A+ movie and has a meaningful message. 

Follow Yazi (@YaziDazi) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.