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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Feb 3, 2021



‘SOUL’ is an animated film from Pixar, released by Disney. 

Set in New York City, the lead character is Joe Gardner (voice by Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who’s dream is to have a career in jazz, his true passion. 

His mom prefers that he’d just be more practical and just continue to be a teacher as it’s a more regular and stable job than being a musician. 

But when Joe learns that jazz legend Dorothea Williams (voice by Angela Bassett) is conducting auditions for a pianist in her band, he applies. 

Dorothea is impressed with his talent and offers him an opportunity to play with her that night. 

Joe is so happy that as he walks home, he doesn’t notice an open manhole and falls into it. 

He wakes up to find his soul in an other worldly realm called the Great Beyond. On earth, Joe’s unconscious body lies in coma in a hospital. 

Joe is not willing to die just when he’s about to get his big break in music, so he runs away and ends up in the Great Before, where counselors who are all named Jerry help prepare souls that are yet to be born. 

One thing leads to another and Joe is assigned to be with unborn soul no. 22 (voice by Tina Fey), who doesn’t like the idea of being born and living on earth and prefers to just stay in the Great Before. 

She has had other mentors before, like Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa and Muhammad Ali no less, but they’re all unsuccessful in convincing her to leave the Great Before. 

22 has no spark or passion for anything and Joe helps her find it, but to no avail. They then go to the zone for lost souls where they meet Moonwind (Graham Norton), the captain of a ship that helps lost souls like Joe. 

He helps Joe get back to earth, but he unintentionally takes 22 with him. 22 accidentally gets into Joe’s body while Joe inhabits the body of a cat. What happened to them turns into a meaningful journey that actually helps both Joe and 22 in processing their feelings and assessing their situations and true purpose in life. 

The film is co-directed by Pete Docter (who did the endearing film about our emotions, “Inside Out”) and Kemp Powers (who co-wrote the script and also wrote the acclaimed “One Night in Miami”). 

It is one animated film that has a black hero and lots of black characters. It’s like other animated films that convey valid messages about one’s meaning and purpose in life, like “Wall-E”, “Ratatouille”, even “Toy Story”.) 

Joe has not really found his spark in life and his dream is to be a jazz pianist while 22 is someone who is just scared to try living life on earth as she has also not found her own spark which is the focus of “Soul”. 

It is not just your purpose in life but the thing that makes you feel that you are enjoying life and living on this earth. 

This is such a deeply layered and imaginative concept for a kiddie film and it will be appreciated more by adults, specially those who do not currently enjoy their lives. 

The reimagined concept of the afterlife may not sit well with those with firm and rigid religious beliefs about creation. 

But just like “Inside Out” that probed into our various sorts of emotions in a detailed way we’ve never seen before, “Soul” is about determining the gift you have received to spark life in you and pursuing it so you don’t just struggle and feel like you’re a failure in life.

The film’s visual imagination is just spectacular as various styles of animation are used to show the different stages of life, before and after.

The graphic artists who did them resort to stunning, dimension-bending computer images to depict different worlds, including its vivid and detailed portrayal of New York City. 

In the end, “Soul’s” life-affirming philosophical message reminds us that life is not just about dreams and destinations, but it’s more about the journey all of us mortals make while living a borrowed life on this earth. 

And yes, the fantastic jazz music that goes with it is also a big treat.