Screen Rant’s Ryan George reveals what (probably) happened in the pitch meeting for Pixar’s latest and most existential offering, Soul.
In the latest entry of our ongoing series, Screen Rant’s Ryan George reveals what (probably) happened in the pitch meeting for Pixar’s deeply philosophical family film, Soul. Rather than exploring the afterlife as in Pixar’s Coco, the film posits an interpretation of where we come from before our time on Earth. Public school music teacher and aspiring jazz musician Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) escapes the Great Beyond after his untimely demise and becomes acquainted with a wayward soul named 22 (Tina Fey) who lives in the Great Before.
At the beginning of Soul, Joe is on the cusp of “making it,” scoring a chance to play with jazz legend Dorothea Williams. Unfortunately, while taking his victory lap, Joe plummets down a manhole and finds himself headed in the afterlife. Desperate not to die right when things were going his way, Joe stumbles into the Great Before where new souls gain personalities and learn a little about life on Earth before becoming babies. 22, apparently the 22nd soul to have ever been created, has never been able to find her “spark” despite the help of various famous figures who return after death as mentors to young souls. By posing as a mentor himself, Joe seizes his opportunity for another chance at life and learns a lot about the gift of life along the way.
Soul is a very philosophical film, especially for a family animated feature. Pixar is known for producing structurally and thematically complex films that both parents and children alike can enjoy on multiple levels. Even for a studio that has produced such impressively high concept films as Coco and Inside Out, Soul is a uniquely profound feature. To be a fly on the wall during the pitch meeting for the film would truly be fascinating and more than a little bizarre. It probably went something like this.
Pitching a children’s film in which the protagonist kicks the bucket within the first few minutes is not an enviable job. Pixar certainly pulled out all the stops creatively with Soul, both conceptually and visually. From the realistically rendered denizens of New York City to the ethereal, Inside Out-esque souls and the scribbled, nondescript Jerrys – and Terry – that manage them, Soul incorporates three vastly different character design styles at once, and that’s ignoring the beautiful environments they all inhabit. In the symphony of inventiveness, it’s easy to imagine how Pixar may have dropped a few balls.
Whatever happened in the pitch meeting for Soul, Pixar is keeping that same creative energy flowing. For the last few years, the studio has produced an abnormal number of sequels. Now, they’re lining up fresh IPs for a new generation featuring Mediterranean sea monsters and giant red pandas. Somewhere between a straightforward adventure featuring talking Cars and a redefinition of our understanding of life itself would be a nice sweet spot.
More: Pixar’s Soul Perfectly Wraps Jamie Foxx’s Music Trilogy
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