ESP’s film critic Gavin Miller is keeping his eye on the best of the small screen while Showcase is shut and checks out the latest new release…

Another casualty of Covid has ended up as a Disney Plus network exclusive with cinemas currently closed – and once again Pixar knocks it out the park.

This more adult-orientated offering proves to be another inspirational move by the animation geniuses – and embodies everything that makes them the best at what they do.

Beleaguered school music teacher Joe Gardner (Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx) has always dreamed of making it to the big time as a jazz pianist – but has always fallen short.

He’s never dedicated to a full-time job to always leave the opening that one day his dream may happen. But just as he’s offered a permanent post at the school – much to the happiness of his mother Libba (The Cosby Show’s Phylicia Rashad) – he finally gets the lucky opportunity he’s been waiting for, when he’s asked to audition for jazz legend Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett) – and she delights Joe by giving him the chance to perform later that night.

But just minutes after finally getting his big breakthrough, his world literally turns upside down as he falls down a manhole sending his body into a coma – but his soul gets trapped in a strange ‘Great Beyond’ land between Earth and the afterlife.

Unwilling to die before his big break, he tries to escape, and ends up in a world called the ‘Great Before’ – where ‘soul’ counsellors prepare unborn souls for life on Earth.

Mistaken for an instructor, Joe is assigned to Tina Fey’s cynical soul named 22, who has remained in this realm for a Millennia seeing no point in living on Earth. She badly needs to find her ‘spark’ to complete her badge – and agrees to give Joe her badge so he can return home.

But it’s not quite as simple as that, and what ensues is a delightful journey of beautifully-crafted soul-searching – that oozes originality among the delicious animation.

It might not have the longevity of some Pixar films – Toy Story, Finding Nemo etc – in terms of replay value for ‘kids’ due to its more methodical ‘all age demographic’ mentality, but there’s no doubting this is up there with Pixar’s best.

So if you’ve got Disney’s new streaming service you’ve got to grab yourself a bowl full of Soul pronto.

ESP Rating: 4/5 

Gavin Miller

Platform: Disney+

Voice Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Phylicia Rashad, Richard Ayoade, Daveed Diggs, Wes Studi, Alice Braga, Rachel House, Donnell Rawlings & Angela Bassett

Running Time: 1 Hr 41 Mins

Directors: Pete Docter & Kemp Powers


Written by ESP Magazine

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