RELEASE DATE: December 25, 2020 (streaming)
MPAA RATING: PG (some language; thematic elements)

The latest animated feature from Walt Disney Studios and its Emeryville-based hit factory, Pixar, is titled Soul, which is as much a reference to the story as it is to many of the characters and the impressive jazz music throughout.

Directed by Pete Docter from a screenplay he co-wrote with Mike Jones and Kemp Powers, Soul centers on school music teacher Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) and his dream of trading the classroom scene for a career as a professional jazz musician. His big break comes, but an accident takes him to the afterlife – or more accurately an area known as The Great Before — where he finds himself eventually assisting a soul known as 22 (Tina Fey) to find joy and purpose.

The plot is rather complex, so much so that children are likely to miss the point entirely. Much of the animation is brilliant, while some of the heavenly characters are intentionally not more than elaborate pencil drawings. We are dealing with souls here, after all.

Perhaps more impressive than the animation is the musical score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which is a definite plus as music has the ability to evoke many feelings. For all the attributes of the film, its complexity may have provided some obstacles for me to fully enjoy the experience.

The film has plenty of soul. What it needs is a little more heart.