Soul Filmmakers Discuss How the Story Subverts the Idea of Following Your Dreams

In Pixar's Soul, jazz musician Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) finally gets his big break only to find himself back at the beginning of everything -- quite literally as he's in the Great Before -- trying to figure out how to get back to and hold onto the life he's waited so long to start. However, in the Great Beyond he finds himself dealing with a new soul who doesn't want to go to Earth at all and soon finds himself trying to help this soul, 22 (voice by Tina Fey) find their spark, their dream, their passion that is supposed to be the key to it all. But Soul is about so much more than that something that filmmakers Pete Docter and Kemp Powers says turns the idea of simply following your dreams on its head.

"I think that came directly from our own lives," Docter said about the decision expand the big questions of Soul. "And as I said before, we're kind of conditioned from little kids, what do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to be and somehow that fulfillment of that is really what makes you happy? And you know, for some people it is. Like, I find a great joy in what I get to do, but it's not the end all be all. There’s more to life. And so, this film really just gets to unpack that. And I think we're so used to and conditioned to the idea that just follow your dreams. And that's the answer. And so, we get to we get to kind of turn that on its head a little bit."

Powers said that the idea is one of the boldest choices they could have made.

"I love the idea of a family movie, a movie for kids and adults, where the end goal isn't simply realizing your dream," Powers explained. "I love the fact that we can just avoid, turn the whole cliche on its head, and have that not be the point of any of it. And it's one of the boldest choices that I've seen in a long time. And to be perfectly honest, on certain days when we were doing this, I would say to Pete and Dana [Murray] like, Are we really gonna be able to do this like, and they let us get away with this. And they did."

You can check out the synopsis of Soul below.

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Soul follows Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks, and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (Tina Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.

Soul debuts on Disney+ on December 25th.