According to the Christian reviewers at Movieguide, Pixar’s new film, which debuted on Christmas and stars Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, is about an aspiring Jazz musician named Joe who is on the verge of making a breakthrough in his career when he falls through a manhole and dies.
Suddenly, Joe finds himself on an escalator to Heaven and tries desperately to get off so that he can get back to earth. However, instead of falling to earth, he falls into the “Great Before” which is where baby souls are given their personality. A series of events in this make-believe afterworld find Joe being assigned as a mentor for a difficult baby soul named “22” who doesn’t want to go to earth and rejected the mentorship of other souls such as Mother Teresa, Mahatma Ghandi, and New Age guru Carl Jung.
Baby 22 shows Joe a place known as the Zone where depressed souls who have never been born are mulling around, looking like dark blobs.
The two then encounter an astral sailing ship commanded by Moonwind, a guru who is still alive, and who enables Joe and 22 to return to earth. However, a mix-up occurs with 22 who accidentally inhabits Joe’s body in the hospital and Joe’s soul inhabits a cat.
As if this Hindu version of the afterlife isn’t bad enough, now a record keeping angel from the Great Beyond named Terry realizes that he’s missing a deceased soul and comes to earth to find Joe and get him back where he belongs. This search results in many disturbing and violent complications before Joe gets back into his real body.
Movieguide calls SOUL a “strange combination of very mild Christian belief that you die once combined with much stronger New Age beliefs heavily influenced by Hinduism.” This is found in discussions about chakras, Hindu meditation, and gurus.
Reviewers were also disturbed by the spiritual realm being presented as a combination of an afterlife, a before-life and the zone life. Very serious violent episodes in the film are also a concern, particularly for children.
“Some moments in SOUL are very imaginative and raise important questions about the afterlife, but they’re marred irreparably by the movie’s preponderance of Hindu and New Age references and by the very ugly events that occur in the Zone and even on Earth,” Movieguide concludes.
Even though the movie is more like an arthouse movie and has thus garnered good press, parents should not be fooled by these reviews because “children will be frightened as well as misled by some of the movie’s themes,” the reviewers caution.
They add: “Audiences may also not find it funny and may find it hard to understand, because the plot is too disjointed.”
The bottom line is that SOUL is a movie Christian families can cross off their list of "must see" movies for 2021.
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