Thursday, April 29, 2021

It's very effective.

 Animated movies used to be simple: pretty colors, catchy songs, everyone lives happily ever after, who's up for the accompanying chicken nuggets and plastic toy?

Lately, scratch all that. It's less hakuna matata, more cogito, ergo sum. Animated films, at least what the fine folks at PIXAR have been putting out entertain the kids, sure, but simultaneously have the adults questioning their existence. I find myself so deep in personal reflection...

...not even my meals are Happy.

I will never look at Joe and not see Roy Wood, Jr. 

Oh, Soul, what have you done to me? I'm not sure if this movie made me need therapy, or is therapy, but either way - whoa. Toeing the line between light-hearted and heavy-handed, PIXAR's latest wasn't exactly what I wanted, but maybe more what I needed?

Me and Joe, we're the same. Middle aged middle school teachers just trying to make the best of it? Pretty sure that's what it says under name on my driver's license. But while I've got a wife and kids, Joe's riding solo for the most part. He's got his mom, some good friends, his...uh...students, sure, but what really gets him up in the morning is his dream: playing jazz. Joe, maybe a bit long in the tooth, is holding out for his big break.

And he gets it. Finally. [yes!]

But then he dies. Immediately. [nooooooooooooo!]

Yeah, he does, but to Joe's immense credit, he ain't having it, and walks down the up escalator into the Great Beyond. There he teams up with 22, a fledgling soul not quite ready (or interested) in primetime. Joe and 22 get back to, well, life (back to reality), with the mission of reuniting his wayward soul with his body. And it works...mostly. Instead of Joe being inside Joel, 22 inadvertently gets to steer the ship. And our main dude? Well, he ends up in a cat. While this may seem like the freakiest of Fridays, it actually benefits both of them. Joe gets to see his impact on the world from adjacent eyes, and 22? 22 gets to try pizza

From there it's a very bittersweet journey through Joe's life, one that he's believed was brimming with disappointment and failure. As it turns out, it wasn't his existence that was flawed, only his perspective. Friggin' PIXAR...always making me feel better (and worse) about everything. Clever jerks.

What I do feel extra good about, are these Yays and Boos. As a family, we started Soul sometime after Christmas...and finished it sometime after Easter. Quite the resurrection, no?

This dude from the barebershop is awesome.
Dug everything about him.

  • Joe just absolutely shredding on the piano was amazing. I wish I hadn't quit when I was seven.
  • Quiet coyote, quiet coyoteeeee.
  • I don't like music sounds is the absolute perfect line for Tina Fey.
  • Hahahaha, 22 knocking people out of the zone was tremendous. An infinite number of bonus points awarded for that Knicks joke. 
  • The dude who was previously dead inside absolutely wrecking his entire office made me feel alive. Trashing everything and running out? CAN YOU IMAGINE?
  • Terry traveling around was so cool. Actually, everything about Terry is pretty slick, even if he is a square.
  • The barbershop scene was so well done. The vibe was captured so well (not that I'd know, being that since COVID my wife cuts my hair in our bathroom [we tried the back deck....yikes]).
  • The moments of life montage was inspiring, as scenes like that always are. It really is the little things, right? Especially if they are all beautiful and set to an orchestral score (or music that whales make when they are humping).
  • Throwing little kids at someone may just be the best self-defense move ever.
  • And finally, I'm going to live every minute of it. Probably can't beat that for an ending... 
The Great Before was super cool, sure...
...but also super sleep-inducing, too. 
  • Damn kids laughing at another kid who is actually good at something! Way to crush a dream, you bastards. (honestly, kids making fun of someone who cares is probably the number one thing I hate about my job, with two being a million-way tie with everything else)
  • Wait, you want Joe to teach middle school, forever? Um, can he think about it? [Gandalf voice: run, you fools]
  • My daughter, when she saw the whole dying process? It looks fun. *sigh*
  • My life was meaningless. Say it ain't so, Joe. 
  • Okay, I know it's a bit after the fact, but, uh, was there even a cat in the trailer? This whole subplot kinda came out of absolutely nowhere (for me and mine anyway).
  • My goodness, that 'subway slushee' gag made me want to vomit into my own mouth and eat it and immediately die. So unbelievably gross.
  • If I can be frank, 22 was kind of a jerk at times. Like, a huge one.
  • And finally, I don't know what it was, but I really wasn't too...jazzed (shameful) about this one, initially, you know? Ultimately, I really dug it, but it took two tries and three months. Bottom line, I think if it debuts in my house, I'm not really feeling it.
I know it's only the end of April, but screw it, I'm calling it now: the school year is almost over. Summer is coming, as is the end of concurrent teaching (presumably). It hasn't been all bad, but holy moly, it hasn't been all good, either. Soon, the only thing I will Zoom is out the door and into a world more like the one I used to know. Because if a picture steals a part of your soul...

...what does seven hours a day in front of a camera take?


  1. I thought this was a good movie, but I just fell in love with Wolfwalkers last year. That was my top animated film.

  2. Yeah, the subplot with the cat totally took me out of the zone with this one. For a movie to be so deep and unique, to then switch to a gag about swapping bodies (or souls, whatever) with an animal that's been done 100 times was...odd.
    Inside Out will always be king of the Pixar movies that make me question my entire existence for me, ha!

    1. It was such a random thing, and I really didn't know that it was coming.

      You are totally right. The movie was, on the one hand, a really poetic look into life and the afterlife...and also HEY LOOK THAT MAN IS A KITTY. What a weird thing to balance.

      Hahahah...yeah, Inside Out is an absolute gut-punch at times. Whoa.