Onward may have underperformed at the box office this past weekend, but Disney is already looking ahead to the release of Soul, Pixar’s second original movie of 2020. Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey lead the film’s voice cast, and after a beautiful but vague teaser trailer debuted last November, we now have a better sense of what to expect when this film arrives this summer. Check it out below.
25 years after Toy Story and 23 movies into their filmography, Pixar has finally made a feature film with a black character at its center. Jamie Foxx voices Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher whose true passion is playing jazz music. But just when he finally gets a gig playing the type of music he loves, he steps into an open sewer grate – one which seemingly transports him to “a fantastical place where he’s is forced to think again about what it truly means to have soul.” But he’s not going through it alone: in that unfamiliar world, Joe meets 22, a soul voiced by Tina Fey and one “who doesn’t think life on Earth is all it’s cracked up to be.”
Pete Docter, who may have the best current track record at Pixar as the filmmaker behind Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out, returns as director, and he’s joined by co-director Kemp Powers (a writer on Star Trek: Discovery) and producer Dana Murray, a longtime veteran of Pixar who’s making her feature producing debut with Soul. Questlove (The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon), Phylicia Rashad (Creed), and Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, Blindspotting) round out the cast, and the score is composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network, HBO’s Watchmen).
“I think [the character of] Joe is having that crisis that all artists have,” says Powers. “He’s increasingly feeling like his lifelong dream of being a jazz musician is not going to pan out and he’s asking himself ‘Why am I here? What am I meant to be doing?’ Joe personifies those questions.”
“The comedy comes naturally,” says Murray. “But the subtle emotion that reveals the truth to the characters is really something special.” I’m very curious to see if this movie is going to follow in the footsteps of films like Inside Out and Monsters University, which take the subversive approach of telling the audience that not everyone has to be happy all the time and people don’t always achieve their dreams. Those are lessons that aren’t imparted too often in children’s entertainment, which makes them all the more powerful when they’re utilized well.
Soul opens on June 19, 2020.
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