Pixar's latest animation Soul is meant for kids but it's grown-ups who'll love it

Soul

PG (100mins) Available on Disney Plus from Christmas Day

★★★★☆

HEARING there is a new Pixar film out is like your Christmases coming all at once.

This charming, beautiful and very quirky animated movie will make you hope it’s in your stocking (or at least on your Disney Plus) on December 25.

Soul is the story of Joe (Jamie Foxx), a burnt-out middle-aged music teacher.

He has a huge passion for jazz and is desperate for his big break — something that has stalled his life to a near stop.

So much so, that his mum still washes his clothes and he appears not to have any social life that does not revolve around jazz.

When a former pupil gives Joe the chance to play piano with a famous jazz musician, Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett), he jumps at the chance and wins the audition.

While distracted with elation, Joe falls down a manhole and dies, immediately taking his soul to the conveyer belt in the sky, so he can cross over into the Great Beyond.

But so determined is he to get on stage with his jazz hero, Joe defies the “rules” of souls and fights against the moving floor, falling into another world: the Great Before.

This is a serene, dreamlike place where unborn souls are made and they all look like podgy baby ghosts. These chubby spirits need to be assigned personalities.

Joe fakes it as a mentor and is given soul 22 (Tina Fey), who wants to stay where she is and does not trust Earth.

Our hero has other ideas though, as he needs 22 to get there and live his dream of playing on stage with Dorothea.

So the pair literally come crashing down to Earth.

Or, more specifically, a breathtakingly beautiful New York where 22 learns real life is not so bad and Joe discovers he may have wasted most of his.

There are two categories of Pixar films — the ones completely for kids and those pretending to be for kids but actually for grown-ups. This definitely falls into the latter.

As the subject matter — the meaning of life — is a huge challenge for most adults to ever comprehend, this can make Soul a little disjointed as it bounces between worlds and philosophical concerns.

That is not to say it is not hugely entertaining for a younger audience.

But with some complex dialogue and the film focusing on society’s obsession with success over simply enjoying living, it is often a struggle to absorb.

This stunningly made movie may have you scratching your head in wonder. But with Pixar’s incredible writing and wizardry, it is far from soulless.

Come Away

PG (90mins)

★★★☆☆

THIS fantastical story turns the traditional fairytale upside down, inside out – and then transports it down a rabbit hole.

Brother and sister Alice (Keira Chansa) and Peter (Jordan A Nash) morph into Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, as their parents Rose and Jack Littleton (Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo) try to cope with the death of eldest son David.

As the youngsters use creativity and powerful imaginations to protect themselves – escaping to Neverland and through the looking glass – their parents navigate adult struggles and complicated sibling relationships of their own.

The cast is great. Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings And A Funeral), is perfect as chilly benefactor Aunt Eleanor. Jolie nails her English accent and Michael Caine sparkles.

But don’t expect too much glitter. Come Away is mostly a more sombre dose of make-believe.

The non-stop references to JM Barrie and Lewis ­Carroll’s classics are woven in seamlessly by Oscar- winning director Brenda Chapman, and the concept of Peter Pan being related to Alice in Wonderland somehow works. But it’s hard to know who it’s aimed at.

It never feels like a true children’s treat or proper family viewing. A great cast, contained in a curiouser and curiouser plot.

Wonder Woman 1984

12A (151mins)

★★★☆☆

THE year 2020 will be remembered – and cursed – for bringing us many things.

But one thing it did not provide was a superhero film. Until now.

Actress Gal Gadot has swooped in to save us all, with the sequel to her 2017 Wonder Woman.

The year is 1984, where the consumerism culture is thriving. But the Amazonian princess has been living under the radar, working at the Smithsonian museum in Washington DC.

She’s still mourning the death of her lover Steve Trevor (Chris Pine).

But after becoming pals with Dr Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) the pair discover an artefact that has the ability to grant a person’s deepest wish.

When the object falls into the hands of Trump-like oil salesman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), Wonder Woman is forced to suit up and discover the truth behind this dangerous power before it devastates civilisation.

Despite being set in the ’80s, the Trump satire is clear, with Lord stating: “I’m not a conman, I’m a television personality.”

The chemistry between Gadot and Pine is sizzling. But by bringing Wonder Woman’s lover back while trying to establish two major villains, the entire film can often feel like it is spinning too many plates.

While it definitely provides plenty of thrills, this sequel is not as wonderful as WW’s original outing.

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