Soul Soul

“What do you want to be remembered for?”

This is the question that resonates through the first trailer for Pixar’s Soul, which was unveiled today. The feature marks Pete Docter’s return as director, following studio classics like Up, Inside Out and Monsters, Inc. Watch the trailer below:

Until today, almost nothing was known about Soul. The trailer introduces Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), an amateur jazz musician facing a mid-life crisis. The official synopsis runs as follows:

Joe Gardner [is] a middle-school band teacher whose true passion is playing jazz … Just when Joe thinks his dream might be in reach, a single unexpected step sends him to a fantastical place where he’s forced to think again about what it truly means to have soul. That’s where he meets and ultimately teams up with 22 (Tina Fey), a soul who doesn’t think life on Earth is all it’s cracked up to be.

Entertainment Weekly filled in a lot more plot details:

Soul… sees Joe accidentally dying after getting his dreamed-about job of a lifetime. His soul then ends up at You Seminar, a celestial space where souls are made and given personalities before sent off to human bodies. With his soul at You Seminar, Joe meets 22, a soul who loathes humans and avoids earth. According to Docter, she’s the teenager with the attitude: “You know, it’s all boring and dull. Who cares? It’s all stupid.” … Joe and 22 eventually team up and try to get his soul back to his body on Earth, which involves a journey through cosmic realms.

The film shares the inward-looking existential tone of Inside Out. In their design, the “souls” — wispy blueish sprites — even recall that film’s “emotions.”

Docter explains the story’s genesis: “It started with my son — he’s 23 now — but the instant he was born, he already had a personality. Where did that come from? I thought your personality developed through your interaction with the world. And yet, it was pretty clear that we’re all born with a very unique, specific sense of who we are.”

Soul will be the second original feature released by the studio next year, following Dan Scanlon’s Onward. This marks a change of course: four of Pixar’s last five features were sequels. Its last original feature was Coco, released in 2017.

Soul is co-directed by Kemp Powers, an established playwright, who wrote the screenplay with Docter and Mike Jones. The producer is Dana Murray, who was Oscar-nominated for the studio’s 2017 short Lou. The cast also includes Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, and Daveed Diggs.

The film will be released on June 19, 2020.

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