Both children and adults ask themselves these questions: What is my goal? What is my aim? What am I good at? What is my reason for life?
Of course, as we age, these questions take on a new nuance and meaning as we consider careers, families, and our future. Years go by, dreams are not (or will not be!) Realized, and our entire lives are taking shape.
The hearty soul confronts this issue head-on, following the story of Joe (masterfully voiced by Jamie Foxx) as he struggles with his life. A talented jazz and pianist, Joe has grappled with his perceived mistakes and taught a group of disrespectful middle school students a band while dreaming of a career in music. Then it happens – his life changing pause: a potential gig with a renowned local jazz musician.
But things are not going exactly as planned for Joe. While celebrating the news about the job, he falls into an open maintenance hole cover and finds himself in a whole new world.
Where does it land?
It’s hard to describe, but something like afterlife and life before life are intermingling. There is a literal conveyor belt of souls leaving their lives and heading for a bright, sun-like light. On the other hand, there is a heavenly room (think Super Mario World, full of clouds and fantastic glow) filled with new, young souls eager to go down to earth.
First things first, these young souls are working with some kind of “mentor” and need to find out what their “spark” is before they can begin their lives. Some souls find this spark in baking, others in exercising, others in studying, but until you find out what it is, you will not be sent to the planet. In this “heaven” meets Joe 22 (Tina Fey), a soul who has been lost for so long that most consultants have given up on her. No matter what she does or who she mentors, she cannot find her spark.
Joe’s job is to help 22 and together they embark on a journey of self-discovery.
It all sounds a little too serious to children.
It sounds a bit complex, but somehow the writers and producers managed to make this accessible to children. While some of the more serious, more emotional discussions may not have the resonance they do for adults, there are enough visual gags and inventive concepts out there that should keep their interest – like a sailboat going through clouds or the advisors taking their shape can change, or a man trapped in a cat’s body.
But it’s what the movie tells adults, especially during COVID-19, that goes down really well.
What is it exactly?
The subject of the film is especially raw considering it comes out after months of not seeing family or normal contact with the outside world. For children, blocking is in most cases a test, an obstacle to freedom. It’s the same for adults, but unfortunately as we get older we also have a concept for the bigger picture. Each month in lockdown is more difficult than the last 30 days that are repeatedly lost in the ether of time. Adults understand that the time is over to never be relived.
Towards the end of the film, Joe has a number of insights into himself and his life so far, the precious things that he had somehow become deaf to. Indeed the valuable lesson from soul is to get the most out of every moment we have, no matter how mundane it may be.
What’s the bottom line?
Eating pizza, dancing the sun in tree leaves, watching a sunset with loved ones, other simple pleasures – that is the elixir of life souland your own soul. Deep i know This movie takes you there. While your children may not understand how serious it is about what they are seeing, here is a message for all of us: Appreciate the little things whenever you can.
“Soul” will be available on Disney + December 25th.