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Pixar's Soul Review: Jamie Foxx Goes On A Soul-Searching Trip In Heaven

Welcome to the stairway to heaven, Pixar-style.

Soul (PG)

Starring the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton

Directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers

Pixar is a master at making crowd-pleasing cuteness that also explores big questions about life (and death — did anyone not cry in the first 10 minutes of Up?). Rarely does the studio go for the low-hanging fruit. Okay, sometimes it does with the sequels (how many Toy Storys are out there?), but in its 23rd feature, it aims high, like heaven high. Or rather, somewhere near the pearly gates, in a cosmic realm called The Great After, where souls are imprinted with personalities before they go to Earth. A middle-aged jazz pianist (Jamie Foxx voicing Pixar’s first African-American protagonist), who is trapped in the glowy purgatory before his big break, hatches an escape plan with the help of a precocious new soul named 22 (Tina Fey). The result: an existential journey that’s fun, pensive and touching. Pixar has been down this metaphysical road before with Inside Out (which examines the emotions in a young girl) and Coco (the Spirited Away-esque fable about the afterlife); while comparisons to those entries are inevitable, Soul exudes its own winning charm, visually and musically. It doesn’t rattle me as much as Coco did (can a spirit live forever?) but after all the talk about finding passion and purpose in life, when the movie’s over, I’ve got some serious soul-searching to do as well. Heavy, man. (***1/2)

Photo: Disney/Pixar

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