story and screenplay by Pete Docter, Mike Jones, Kemp Powers
directed by Pete Docter
by Walter Chaw Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) teaches middle-school band to a group of largely-disinterested kids and dreams of becoming a big-time jazz pianist like the one he saw in some smoky bar his dad dragged him to one time when he was a kid. His dad was a musician, see, and made a little name for himself. Joe's mom, Libba (Phylicia Rashaad), is a seamstress who owns her own business. She funded Joe's dad's "career" because the world is hard on small things. (Artists and their dreams, too.) Joe is offered a full-time teaching position on the same day he scores a gig with the great saxophonist/vocalist Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett)--the same day, as it happens, he gets into a terrible accident that will result in his death unless he can convince the superintendents of an A Matter of Life and Death-esque afterlife to give him a second chance. That second chance comes in the form of 22 (Tina Fey), an "unsparked" soul needing to find that certain je ne sais quoi in order to be "born" in, I presume, a human host body on Earth. The rules are diaphanous, with no great expectation to ever cohere. It doesn't matter. Pete Docter's Soul isn't that kind of fantasy. It isn't about the metaphysical, after all; it's really only about something as simple yet as difficult as the importance of living in the moment. Gathering ye rosebuds whilst one might, if you will. It's not deep. I guess it doesn't have to be.