Reel Dad: Disney's 'Soul' is the perfect movie for 2020

This image released by Disney/Pixar shows Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx, from the animated film "Soul." The last major release planned for June, has been postponed to November due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Disney-Pixar via AP)

This image released by Disney/Pixar shows Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx, from the animated film "Soul." The last major release planned for June, has been postponed to November due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Disney-Pixar via AP)

Pixar / AP

After everything our world has faced in 2020, the animated film “Soul” delivers the perfect spoonful of sugar. This captivating tour of human emotion - from the movie magicians at Disney and Pixar - becomes the perfect film experience for the holidays, offering a chance to escape a year we wish we could rewrite while helping us better understand what enables us to survive the realities we face. It’s as if those creative geniuses looked into the future and asked, “how can we make it all better?”

From the opening moments, we know “Soul” is just what we need. Within a minute, maybe less, we are transported to a world of today that we barely recognize. People pass each other on the street without having to maintain social distance. In conversations, they feel a freedom to lean in and listen rather than stand back and protect. And, when tragedy strikes, instead of feeling sorry for themselves, the characters in this film find reasons to hope. Their belief in the power of hope reaches through the screen as we share their journeys.

In “Soul,” a jazz pianist wants more than his current situation offers. As much as he cherishes the impact of teaching music in a school, he sees himself as a performer as he craves the opportunity to prove what he could do on a stage in front of a crowd. When that chance to perform arrives, he embraces the joy while confronting his mother’s resistance. Only when he suffers a fatal accident, and finds himself trapped in afterlife limbo, can this man begin to discover how special his gifts can make the world. As he tries many ways to get back to earth to fulfill his destiny, he befriends another trapped soul, a woman who games the afterlife system to avoid confronting her reality. Together, they begin to realize what they can learn when they lean in and listen to each other and learn to trust.

The film’s visual experience, as with any Disney/Pixar offering, is something to behold, as the artistic potential of animating continues to soar. But what makes “Soul” so special - at any time - is how it dares, without spoiling the entertainment, to ask serious questions we need to hear. When people lose so much, what can offer reasons to continue? What enables people to overcome adversity to rediscover the joys of connecting with others? And how can we slow down how we live long enough to realize what we miss when we insist on moving forward at a breakneck?

This holiday season, as we reach out to connect, in person and through telephones and computers, we will cherish the peace of mind that comes when we’re in touch with the people we love. Spending 100 minutes with the characters in “Soul” will also remind us that, as much as what we face can overcome, we can find joy in any circumstance. See this movie. Maybe, a few times.

“Soul” is rated PG for “thematic elements and some language,” runs 1 hour, 40 minutes, and will be released on Disney+ on Dec. 25.

Summary: Soul

Content: High. This magical film from Disney/Pixar offers a stylized look at how people can survive the best and worst of times.

Entertainment: High. The film's visual feast provides an ideal backdrop for a meaningful story about the choices we can make to enrich our lives.

Message: High. As entertaining as the film is - with strong music and humor along with rich characters - it offers a positive message we all need after the year we have faced.

Relevance: High. Anyone who looks for movies to help us feel better, no matter how we're doing when the film begins, should love "Soul."

Opportunity for Dialogue: High. This is an ideal film for a family to share.