Weekly Movie Review: ‘Soul’ presents a great message that compels the audience to find their spark

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Ashley Xie

Disney’s new animated movie Soul is a heart warming story about life.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Finding your “true self” is a really important aspect but is genuinely overlooked in life. As teenagers, we strive to achieve our life goals like building a family, traveling, or succeeding in our dream occupations. Finding the spark or the purpose in your life is something we may not become aware of, and “Soul” is the film to address that.

The movie “Soul” follows a middle-school music teacher named Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx. Joe’s passion is to pursue his jazz career as a pianist. As he finally lands a major gig, he finds himself in another realm and in the position to mentor 22, another soul, to find their passion or “spark” as they refer to it. The first realm Joe finds himself in is called the Great Beyond, which is assumed to be a place where people pass away. Then, he transcends into the Great Before, which is a place where souls find their personality traits and spark. Then from there, souls who find their spark get a ticket to go to Earth. 22, voiced by Tina Fey, is opposed to anything Earth-related and finds herself unmotivated to find her spark. Throughout a series of falling back to Earth into the wrong body to going back to the realm, both Joe and 22 find themselves and what it means to have a soul.

The movie itself hints a lot about what the basis of the story is: it does not matter where you strive to end up but rather the way you live the life you want to live. 

In the movie Jamie Foxxx’s character, Joe Gardner said, “Your spark isn’t your purpose. That last box [or the spark] fills in when you’re ready to come to live.”

The moral of this story is something I really enjoyed. It seemed straightforward but somewhat complex at the same time. At first, Joe’s goal was to just get back into his body to play for his gig. He then discovers his purpose, which was to live, and that built the complexity. Although I may not have yet fully experienced the character growth Joe underwent, it put my own life into perspective. 

While we do not consider our life goal to find our “soul,” we do eventually find ourselves at a point where we consider our physical and mental being. Our personality traits, goals, and aspirations we hope to adhere to gives us that sense of what our “soul” is. I believe high school is one of the most well-known turning points in a person’s personal growth but like Joe Gardner, it was not the case.

The movie ends off with an everlasting quote that basically summarizes the character development of Joe Gardner. By this time, Joe had already found his meaning in life and that is to live. As he is ready to ascend into the Great Beyond, he becomes offered a chance for another life. With the new mindset he obtained, he strives with a new goal to live.

“I’m not sure [about my life endeavors], but I do know I’m going to live every minute of it,” Gardner said.

I would personally rate this a nine out of ten solely because of the fact that the side characters in the Great Beyond and Great Before were not really prominent or even relevant to the story. For example, Terry, the one who counts the souls going into the Great Beyond, did not have enough of a developing story for me to find their purpose in the movie. Yes, he played the role of adversity to Joe but he did not really make a difference and in the end, they did not really resolve anything with him. The Jerry’s said they would handle it and we only find that they just trick Terry into thinking Joe is accounted for in the Great Beyond. Despite that, my overall impression of “Soul” was extremely positive. Not only is it the first movie of 2020 I was genuinely excited for, but it is Pixar’s first black-led animation, and it did live up to the hype I saw on social media.