This week in Film — SOUL

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down movie theaters in March, Disney scrambled their announced release schedule as best they could: First by pushing their major blockbusters to 2021, second by off-loading their lower-rent family fare to their streaming service, Disney+. Caught in the shuffle were two: Mulan, a live-action remake of their under-appreciated 1998 animated film, and Soul, the latest feature from the Pixar wing.

Mulan, scheduled to come out in the theaters in March, hit the streaming service in September but as a “premium video on demand” with a price tag of $29.95 on top of the monthly subscription. A pretty steep price that, in hindsight, makes sense: The movie’s a dud, one unlikely to inspire repeat viewings or ancillary merchandise. If Disney wanted to make any money off the film, they would have to get it upfront.

Soul, which was to compete for the Palm d’Or at this year’s canceled Cannes Film Festival, is the exact opposite:

Just as the title Soul does double duty, the story here takes place in a double realm. On Earth, New York City, to be precise, jazz pianist/middle school music teacher Joe (voiced by Jamie Foxx) accidentally dies while en route to the break he’s waited for his whole life. One minute he’s walking, talking and not looking where he’s going; the next minute, Joe’s an amorphous blue blob on a stairway to heaven. But Joe’s not ready for the Great Beyond just yet, so he finds a way off the celestial people-mover and plops into the Great Before — where souls are prepped by abstract beings called “Jerrys” before they head down to Earth to unite with their bodies (“meat sacks” as the Jerrys call them).

Boulder WeeklyVol. 28, No. 17, “A matter of life and death.”

Soul is a deep and moving work, one that will benefit from multiple viewings. So, Disney sets the access price at the minimum and will release Soul on Disney+ Christmas morning for anyone who has the basic subscription package. Happy Holidays.