Movie review: Soul
It is almost a given that film critics are expected to rave every time a new Pixar film is released, to treat it like a winner right out of the gate.
The studio's 2020 animated offerings were non-franchise originals, kick-starting the year with the perfectly imperfect Onward and ending with Soul.
If your gauge of a good Pixar movie is how many soaked tissues you end up leaving behind, then Soul is not up there with gold standard tearjerkers such as Inside Out and Up, which were also written and directed by Pete Docter.
Jamie Foxx voices unfulfilled middle-aged band teacher Joe Gardner, whose life finally begins to take on some meaning when he gets his big break of performing jazz music onstage.
However, an untimely accident causes his soul to be separated from his body and begin to proceed to the Great Beyond, during which he races against time to find a way back to Earth.
And from there, Soul throws disparate components and wild turns, yet the result is too placid to pack an emotional gut punch.
And because much of the material veers into the metaphysical and existential, which certainly allows adults to muse over life's profundities, younger viewers may not have much to grasp on to and hold their attention over the 100-minute run time.
It is also one of the least funny and child-friendly Pixar flicks, as the closest to a child avatar that the little ones can relate to is 22 (Tina Fey), Joe's mentee soul with a sarcastic and dim view on the concept of life, or maybe a therapy cat that ends up being part of a body-swop side plot.
Again, hardly classic Pixar characters such as Riley from Inside Out, Russell from Up or even Miguel from Coco.
Opening here on Christmas Day, Soul aims to provide a feel-good balm on what it means to be alive and to cherish every moment.
And there is indeed a sublime beauty, thoughtfulness and tenderness to Joe's journey towards self-fulfilment and all that jazz.
We have a chicken soup in Soul that contains traditional ingredients to make it go down well but perhaps is not inspired enough to get you, like where Joe finds himself at one point, "in the zone".