Let me start with the disclaimer that I’m not actually much of a Pixar fan. They’ve made some good movies, but most of their work I’m either indifferent to, and a few of their films I actively dislike. I do think their overall visual quality is generally amazing, but I often can’t connect to their stories. I don’t know why.
That said, my favorite Pixar film is Coco. I do like The Incredibles as well. Cars and WALL-E are pretty good. But the movie that Soul has been most compared to is Inside Out, and I actually really didn’t like that movie much at all.
Which is why I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Soul.
If you don’t know the premise, Soul is about a music teacher whose lifelong dream is to be a jazz musician. On the day he finally gets a break, he falls through a manhole and… Well, doesn’t die, exactly. It seems like maybe he was meant to die? But he (his soul, anyway) escapes his fate and ends up helping an unborn soul discover the world while trying to get back into his body. There’s obviously a lot more to it, but that’s the nutshell version.
I can see why many people liken it to Inside Out. 1. The overall art style of the Beyond is, in some ways, not so different from the way the emotions are depicted in Inside Out. 2. Dealing with somewhat intangible concepts. But I found Inside Out to be… too adamant? I’m not sure I can put a finger on what I really didn’t like about it—that’s a problem I have with Pixar films, sometimes; they just strike me the wrong way—but whatever it was, Soul didn’t have the same irritant. If anything, Soul is such a mild film that, though I didn’t hate it, I wasn’t hugely impressed either. The story itself is fairly straightforward. It was sweet. I’ve heard people call it “thought-provoking,” though, and I’m not sure it’s that, at least not for me.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing a fundamental piece of my humanity. (Blame the high-functioning ASD, I guess.)
Maybe those people think it’s thought-provoking not because of its depictions of before and after life, but due to the idea of a person’s “spark” versus their life’s purpose? That’s something that is touched on in the film but not actually explored all that much.
In the big scheme, I’d say Soul probably ranks somewhere in my top five favorite Pixar films. Not because I think it’s amazing, but by default in that I like it more than most of the others I’ve seen. Would I recommend it? Sure. Would I watch it again? Maybe, if I was on an airplane and nothing else looked good. ::shrug::
I don’t mean to damn with faint praise. It’s a good movie. Solid. Worth a watch. But I don’t have any strong feelings for or against it. Except to say I’m always happy to hear Richard Ayoade’s voice.