Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx in the new movie Soul, teaches middle school band. He’s also a jazz lover and a gifted piano player. Joe’s seeking success and the approval of his mother (Phylicia Rashad). One day, he gets a gig playing with his idol, saxophonist Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett). He thinks he’s about to fulfill his purpose in life.
Before that can happen, Joe falls down a manhole. Eventually, he finds himself in the Great Before. That’s where new souls are prepared for life. It’s also where Joe meets Soul Number 22 (Tina Fey). He’s assigned to help her find her spark. That’s the passion that motivates her. But 22 isn’t excited about anything until she begins to experience life for herself.
By guiding 22, Joe gains an appreciation for the little things that make life worth living. For example, 22 gets her spark from ordinary activities, like watching the sky.
The characters in Soul are very relatable. Everyone has a spark. The movie suggests that part of the beauty of life is discovering your spark and helping others find theirs.
Joe’s piano pieces, played by musician Jon Batiste, are a highlight of the film. The music is impressive and full of feeling. It’s easy to believe these tunes take Joe on a musical journey to another world. By hearing them, we’re transported too.
I give Soul a rating of 9 out of 10. The movie is thought-provoking and inspiring. As the characters learn from one another, the viewer is invited to examine his or her own life.
You’ll want to watch this film again and again with those who know you best, so you can discuss your spark and why it makes you you.