January 11, 2021

Soul, the highly anticipated new Pixar movie, came out recently and received a mixed review from everyone. The film has a talented and diverse cast including big names such as Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, and Daveed Diggs who starred in the Broadway musical hit Hamilton.  On one hand, the reviews are praising the movie for its heartwarming, and appreciative plot. On the other, some are criticising the animators for their choices.


The hearty movie about not taking life for granted follows the life of a jazz-pianist who has a nasty accident that leaves him trapped in what appears to be the afterlife. Left to ponder his poor choices, he soon finds that there is more to life than what he believes. 


People began pointing the finger at Disney and Pixar when this movie came out, comparing it to old Disney movies. Many fans noticed that Disney’s movies such as Brother Bear, Princess and the Frog, it’s 20th Century Fox studios movie Spies in Disguise, and now Soul all tend to make their people of color into nonhuman figures. When the teaser was released angry fans took to social media to point out that Soul was doing the exact same thing, and others responded by bringing up movies like Moana.


Soul’s director Pete Docter was asked about the backlash during the virtual press conference to which he responded, “We were unaware of that [trope] as we started, but we certainly became aware. My hope is that when you see the whole film, there is plenty of Joe on screen. I think we have over fifty percent on Earth that follows Joe’s life, his places of where he goes, people he’s with, people he is with, and then the other part is in the soul world.”


Kemp Powers, the co-director, also responded saying, “I’m as sensitive to those things as anyone else. For me, it’s definitely about the context in which you tell this character’s story. There were a lot of caution cones we had to put up…[to,] for the first time, [tell] a black man’s story in an animated film, being aware of how easy it is to go off the rails.” 


To make sure the movie was culturally, and musically correct, they brought in consultants that included Questlove, John Batiste, educator Dr Johnetta B Cole, Marcus McLaurine, Daveed Diggs, Herbie Hancock, Dr Peter Archer, Dr Christopher Bell, Terri Lyne Carrington, Bradford Young, and George Spencer.  


As Pixar movies go, this isn’t the worst to watch with a strong message about appreciating life more. Although the execution was heavily criticised, it was picked at the movie stands with mostly positive reviews. You can watch this movie on Disney Plus, and it can also be watched on Netflix in some countries.

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