Growing up in a mixed household, I watched all sorts of films. Given there were not as many people of color in leading roles, there were a few. As times have changed there has been progress in the movie industry when it comes to people of color in leading roles, LGBTQ+ representation and more accurate portrayal of other cultures and religions. Don’t get me wrong, even though progress has been made many stereotypes are still being portrayed.
Soul is Pixar’s newest movie, introducing its first Black lead. It tells the story of Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx, a middle school band teacher, who isn’t quite satisfied with his life. Joe longs to be a jazz musician, but when he finally gets the chance, his life is cut short. We watch as Joe ends up in the great beyond trying to find any way to get back to Earth. He ends up as a “soul mentor” to 22, voiced by Tina Fey, who doesn’t understand the point of living. At the end of their journey, Joe ends up sacrificing his life for 22 since he was able to live out his dream. The final scene shows Joe being given a second chance to live now that he understands what life is really about.
I was extremely excited to see this movie and watched it on its release date, December 25. Knowing the movie revolved around a Black jazz musician, I was thrilled for the opportunity to hear an amazing soundtrack and to finally see correct representation of Black culture.
While many people might argue that this film didn’t live up to the standards that had been set for a Black lead there were still positive attributes. Soul teaches viewers to not take their life for granted and to live your life to its fullest. The movie also mentions enjoying the simple things in life, rather than only pursuing your career.
In my opinion and based onIother reviews I have read, this film has more negatives than positives. The biggest problem I had was that the Black “lead” ended up being an accessory to a white woman who was trying to figure out what she wanted. Rather than appealing to all viewers, the film is made with white people in mind. Certain stereotypes have been avoided to ease people’s minds while watching, conforming to a softer image. Since most of the film revolved around 22 finding her spark, there were missed opportunities to show more scenes with Joe and his mother or with his students. The relationships we saw were surface level. 22, on the other hand, made many connections in Joe’s body, which again shows that Joe was playing more of a supporting role.
With all this said, I did enjoy the movie. Yes, when I looked into deeper meanings I had issues with certain aspects of the film, but at surface level, it was a good movie and I would watch it again.