Hollywood has no shortage of movies talking about the importance of working hard to achieve your dreams. What such movies usually leave out is that the fact that in order for one person to win the race, everyone else must lose. In Pixar’s latest animated movie Soul, director Pete Docter wants to put a new spin on the theme of following your dreams, as he explained during a recent press promo.
“There are just so many films, particularly family films, that come out with this idea of chasing your dreams, which it’s always kind of like the same kind of story. Like if you believe strong enough, you can accomplish your dreams. But we were really trying to thread a needle I’ve never seen anyone thread before, which is the people who achieve their dreams aren’t the only ones whose lives are of value. Actually, everyone’s life has equal value, whether they achieve those dreams or not. And it’s about our willingness to be personally satisfied.”
Soul tells the story of a high school music teacher Joe Gardner, who achieves his lifelong dream of getting an invitation to play in the city’s best jazz club. Unfortunately, before his dream can be fulfilled an accident occurs. Joe finds his life has ended, and he has reached the place where souls are born. Now Joe’s soul must find a way to return to his mortal life by teaming up with a new soul that does not wish to come to Earth at all. In a quest to convince the new soul that life is worth living, Joe ends up appreciating the richness of his own existence.
Those are quite heavy themes to include in a children’s movie. But then Pixar has never shied away from discussing complex notions of love, loss, and growing up in their movies. For his part, Docter believes children are smart enough to be able to handle a story that challenges as well as entertains:
“Kids are super smart and I think a lot of times we underestimate what they’re able to pick up on, especially when you make it visual. If you took either [Soul or Inside Out] and tried to explain it to somebody, you probably would lose the kids. But if you show them and you can create the meaning visually, which is of course what we strive to do on all of our films at Pixar, then I think you get it, both in visuals and of course make it emotional.”
Early reviews for Soul have been highly positive, indicating Pixar has pulled off yet another original critical hit at a time when it’s parent company Disney is still relying on by-the-numbers remakes and reboots of existing IP. Directed by Pete Docter, Soul features a lead cast of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs, and Angela Bassett. The film will eschew a theatrical release all together in favor of making its debut on Disney+ on December 25. This news comes from ComicBookResources.