Tag Archives: Pete Docter

Soul (2020) Review

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Soul

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Jamie Foxx as Joe Gardner
Tina Fey as 22
Graham Norton as Moonwind
Rachel House as Terry
Alice Braga and Richard Ayoade as Jerry
Phylicia Rashad as Libba Gardner
Donnell Rawlings as Dez
Questlove as Lamont “Curley” Baker
Angela Bassett as Dorothea Williams
Director: Pete Docter

Joe (Jamie Foxx) is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz — and he’s good. But when he travels to another realm to help someone find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.

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I knew of Soul as an upcoming animated movie from the same people who made Inside Out, that was put on Disney+. At first I wasn’t really sure about it, beyond that the fact is a Pixar movie. I saw the first trailer however, it got me very interested with the premise. It turned out to be quite great and I was impressed by it.

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I do think that it’s worth going into the movie without knowing much about it beyond the initial premise and setup. I went in having only seen one of the trailers and I enjoyed the movie quite a lot for that. There are some story aspects that are quite typical of that of other animated movies, especially with the general structure. On the whole however, the story is captivating, and it hooks you straight into it. It really takes you on a journey that make you think about life along with Jamie Foxx’s character Joe Gardener and Tiny Fey’s character 22. It’s a beautifully told story, that’s full of sincerity, honesty and heart. It is a very human story about what it means to be alive and the purpose of life. It brings so much life to its very existence in its messages of purpose and the real intent behind our purpose in this life, what sparks us, what we live for and what we do that really matters. There’s some good humour in there, which surprising considering the premise, and there are even several lough out loud moments. The characters are great, even the brief characters who only have a few minutes of screentime have fully defined personalities and you feel like you know them. It is Pixar’s most mature movie by far. In fact, I do wonder how younger people would react to this movie honestly, as I definitely see older audiences getting much more out of the movie. I’m not sure if anyone has complained about the ending but it’s a bit abrupt, however I really like the point it ends on.

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The voice cast from everyone was great. Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey play their lead roles very well. There is also a very good supporting voice cast that works well, including Daveed Diggs, Richard Ayoade, and others. The highlights among them for me were Graham Norton and Rachel House, House particularly channels her character from Hunt of the Wilderpeople to great effect here.

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Pete Doctor directed this very well, as to be expected from the director of Up and Inside Out. The movie is beautifully and stylishly animated. Many of the locations are quite good. From The Great Beyond, the You-Seminar, to New York City, all of them look so beautiful and gorgeous. One of the surprising aspects was how much it was actually largely based in New York City, as many Pixar movies go for more fantasy/adventure settings. The stylised photo-realism approach in those scenes are great to watch, from the way they use light, to the way they use the camera. The score is from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and is nothing short of transcendent, and really was a huge presence in the movie.

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Soul is greatly animated and directed, very well voiced, and has a lot of things to say in it. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite Pixar movie and I probably wouldn’t rewatch it a whole lot, but I think it’s one of Pixar’s best, as well as one of their most clever, poignant and honest films. It’s among the best movies of the year and is worth checking out for sure.

Inside Out (2015) Review

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Pixar's "Inside Out." (Pixar)

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 860914[1]
Cast:
Amy Poehler as the voice of Joy
Phyllis Smith as the voice of Sadness
Bill Hader as the voice of Fear
Lewis Black as the voice of Anger
Mindy Kaling as the voice of Disgust
Director: Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen

Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.

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The initial idea of Inside Out sounds good on paper but doesn’t exactly sound like it could work as a kids’ film. How is it possible that an animated kids’ film could talk about emotions and be complex and intelligent? Somehow Pixar manages to do this and surpass what I originally thought it would be. This is in my opinion Pixar’s best movie since Up and its worth being seen by everyone, young or old.

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I’m not going to spoil too much of what happens because you really should go in not knowing too much of what this movie is about. This film is really clever in how it talks about people’s emotions. I’m impressed with the messages that the film decided to go with, some of them are quite challenging and mature, which makes it stand out from other animated movies. The emotions it mainly talks about is Joy and Sadness, as they are the main stars of the film. For example I like how it shows the need for sadness, there aren’t many kids’ films which actually say that sometimes sadness is needed. Along with the emotional moments there are also a lot of comedy which both kids and adults could enjoy, the adults would probably understand it more. That’s another thing worth mentioning, kids and adults can watch this and enjoy it and get different things out of it. Personally I think that adults probably would like this movie more than kids, as they will understand more of it.

All the voice actors are perfectly cast, they are perfectly suited to their character. My personal favourite was Lewis Black as Anger, that’s just me though. Another thing I like is how they managed to make the emotions three dimensional, mostly Joy and Sadness, with them dabbling in the others’ emotions. It does bring up the question, wouldn’t that mean that they have emotions in their head? I don’t think that we’re supposed to be looking that deep though. All of the emotions are entertaining, however Joy and Sadness are really the most developed, the others are fine but aren’t as complex or deep as them.

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Pixar as always makes their films look great. As this takes place in someone’s mind, you can imagine the sorts of things that you’ll be seeing there, and the creators really have a lot of ideas of what a teenage girl would have inside her head as Joy and Sadness try to move through it. The animation is beautiful and visually pleasing. The soundtrack accompanying these scenes also adds a lot.

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Inside Out is one of the year’s best and it is worth seeing at least once. It’s a beautiful looking, deep, intelligent and funny film that should be seen by people young or old, if they haven’t seen it already. In fact I have a feeling that older and more mature viewers will like it way more than younger viewers, as they will be understand more of what’s going on. It is one of Pixar’s best and one of the smartest animated movies I’ve seen.