Inside: A career coach and mom’s review of Pixar’s Soul – a movie about finding what makes you who you are.
Not necessarily the words you’d expect to be central to a kid’s movie, right?
But I’ve always found that to be the magic of Pixar. They make movies that mean something to children and adults alike, and their latest, Soul, may actually be more for the parents snuggling up with their little ones than the little ones themselves. The kids will be into it too, but I think Pixar is counting on us as parents to take in the message and then pass it along in our own way.
I’m totally here for that.
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Why We Watched (And I Loved) Soul
I went into Soul thinking three things.
- I don’t know anything about this movie but it’s from Pixar so it will probably be good.
- I think it’s about music and that’s cool.
- The main character is Black and representation in media is HUGE. More of that, please!
Also, my five-year-old got a Soul toy from McDonald’s the other day so he was intrigued. Well played, marketing folks.
Here’s what I wasn’t expecting though: The movie is about career paths and finding meaning in your life.
My career coaching Belinda Baloney writing heart starting pitter-pattering as the themes of the movie became clear and I was glad to be on my couch and not in a theater so I could take notes without being obnoxious.
Okay, I was a little obnoxious, but my family forgave me.
The Plot of Soul – Spoiler Free
The main character, Joe Gardner, is an aspiring musician and a current middle school band teacher. He dreams of leaving teaching behind to live out his career as a musician in the state of flow he experiences while playing the piano.
But when Joe gets his big break, he quickly thereafter takes a big fall down a manhole, and his soul gets transported to the Great Beyond. Joe’s not ready to go yet though, his life was just starting in his opinion, so he tries to figure out a way back to Earth.
To get there he has to help a new Soul, named 22, find her spark (the thing that makes her who she is) so she can get her Earth badge and become a person. 22 is not interested in life on Earth though and hijinks ensue.
I’ll sprinkle some more of the plot into the sections below because there’s a lot to break down, but that’s the gist.
Breaking Soul Down – Career Coach Style
I made some big promises in the title of this article, that Soul was going to help you find your soul, and now it’s time to deliver. We’ll break that down using some of the key themes of the movie.
Near the beginning of the movie, we see Joe explaining to his students what it’s like as a musician to get lost in the music as you’re playing. The state of flow is all about feeling so in the zone that you lose track of time and everything else around you sort of disappears.
The imagery you see a bit later in the movie when Flow is described is perfect. It’s like you’re in your own world!
So how does this relate to you and your Soul? I talk about Flow a lot with coaching clients and it’s such an important concept to tap into. Feeling “in the zone” is often associated with music or sports or acting, but you can find flow is so many different things.
For example, when I was feeling not totally fulfilled in my career and life (even though both were great) I spent a lot of time thinking about flow. It was then I realized that I was most in the zone when I was making photo calendars on my computer, which is kind of weird but true. I liked getting sucked into a project that a) was creative and b) was a solo activity. It’s part of the reason I ended up blogging and loving it!
Key Takeaway: Flow can be found anywhere. Take time to recognize when you find yours, even in weird places, and how you could do more of that in your life.
The Hall of Everything
The Hall of Everything is a place in The Great Before where new souls try to find their spark. It’s basically a giant room of different activities, hobbies, and interests for souls to explore so they can find the thing that makes them uniquely themselves.
For kids, the Hall of Everything is life! We’re constantly exposing our children to new activities to see what they find interesting. Somewhere along the way we feel like we need to leave the Hall as adults though. We’ve chosen our paths and made our beds so it’s time to lie in them.
However, I send coaching clients back into the Hall of Everything all the time. It kicks off with using Dr. Tim Butler’s 100 Jobs Exercise which gets you back into the dreamer mindset. From there you can pull out themes of things that are interesting to you rather than one specific career.
Key Takeaway: Your spark might be music, or cooking, or writing, but it could also be humor, human relationships, leadership, or research. Themes are big here and they are much less limiting. Try it out for yourself!
Two parts of the movie stick out to me when it comes to talking about Purpose.
One is when Joe visits his barber, Dez. Dez is a wonderful barber and Joe always thought that Dez was “born to do this” and it was his “purpose” but being a barber was not Dez’s Plan A. Dez reveals that he wanted to be a veterinarian when he was a kid, however, his plans changed when life happened (as it does for many of us) and going to school to be a barber was the more financially feasible option. Now he loves being a barber because he’s a great listener, likes talking with interesting people, and he makes people happy.
Purpose also becomes a major topic later in the movie when 22 feels like she isn’t good enough because she doesn’t have a purpose. After trying so many different things, she can’t find her thing and feels lost. Relatable right? However, 22 ends up finding her spark in living life, having meaningful conversations, and truly experiencing the small moments.
Key Takeaway: Purpose does not have to be one thing! It can be about exploring and finding your spark in many different ways.
Will Your Kids Be Obsessed with Soul? Maybe Not. But It’s Still Worth It.
Clearly, I was into this movie and I’ll happily point any adult who wants to get unstuck over to Disney+. Soul is going to make you think about your life, give you inspiration, and free your soul to explore!
But will your kids be begging to watch this one again and again? If they are young like mine – probably not. The movie has some good funny moments that had my little ones chuckling but the deep messages went a bit over their heads which is fair – they are 4 and 5.
Without toys, race cars, or superheroes, there may not be enough within Soul to have your kids putting posters on their walls. It’s just a different vibe. Plus, while I haven’t talked about it much here, the movie is also about death. That’s some heavy stuff.
However, if your kids can walk away from Soul having enjoyed a movie about finding their spark that’s pretty cool.
And if they get to experience seeing a cast of primarily Black characters living a rich human experience on screen, that’s a big win.
And if you as the parent walk away thinking about how to help your children find their spark, follow their dreams, change their dreams, and fully experience life, well, that’s definitely worth pressing play for.