Soul 2020 Parents Guide

Soul is a 2020 animated fantasy comedy-drama produced by Pixar for Disney. Directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Kemp Powers, the film stars voices like Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, and Graham Norton. It follows Joe Gardner, a middle school teacher and aspiring pianist who, after an accident, seeks to reunite his soul and body in time for a big jazz breakthrough.

Conceived in January 2016, Docter explored the origins of human personalities and determinism, pitching the idea during his first meeting with co-writer Mike Jones. The film consulted jazz musicians like Herbie Hancock and animated musical sequences using Jon Batiste‘s sessions as a reference. The score features original compositions by Batiste, along with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Produced over four years with a $150 million budget, “Soul” is Pixar‘s first film with a black lead.

Premiering at the London Film Festival in October 2020, the theatrical release was initially set for June and November 2020 but was delayed due to COVID-19. “Soul” debuted on Disney+ on December 25, 2020, and in theaters in some countries. The U.S. theatrical release is scheduled for January 12, 2024.

Movie NameSoul
RatingPG (Thematic Elements, Some Language)
GenreKids & Family, Comedy, Adventure, Animation
Original LanguageEnglish
DirectorPete Docter
ProducerDana Leigh Murray
WritersPete Docter, Mike Jones, Kemp Powers
Release Date (Theaters)Jan 12, 2024 (Wide)
Release Date (Streaming)Dec 25, 2020
Runtime1h 40m
Production CompanyPixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Sound MixDolby Atmos, Dolby Digital
Aspect RatioDigital 2.39:1

Soul Movie Plot Summary:

In the bustling streets of New York City, Joe Gardner, a passionate middle school music teacher with dreams of becoming a professional jazz musician, receives a life-changing opportunity to play with the renowned Dorothea Williams. His excitement propels him into an unexpected mishap – a fall into an open manhole, transporting him to the ethereal realms of the “Great Beyond.”

In this metaphysical space, where souls are prepared for life on Earth, Joe, mistakenly identified as a mentor, encounters 22, a soul that has been resisting the prospect of existence for centuries. Together, they navigate the surreal landscapes of the “Great Before,” seeking answers to the mysteries of life and purpose.

Their journey takes them to the Zone, a realm where passionate pursuits create euphoric trances but can ensnare lost souls. With the help of Moonwind, a soul dedicated to rescuing those lost in their obsessions, Joe locates his comatose body in a hospital. In a twist of fate, Joe returns to Earth, but inadvertently brings 22 with him, leading to a comical mix-up of bodies.

As they navigate this unexpected situation, 22, now in Joe’s body, begins to find joy in the mundane aspects of life – food, wind, and music. Poignant interactions with Joe’s loved ones, including his mother Libba, student Connie, and barber Dez, deepen 22’s understanding of the human experience.

Amidst their adventures, Terry, the meticulous overseer responsible for soul counts, discovers the anomaly and descends to Earth to rectify the situation. Meanwhile, Joe and 22 strive to set things right. Their journey takes them through moments of self-discovery, challenges, and ultimately, a profound realization about the true essence of a meaningful life.

As the day unfolds, Joe and 22 find themselves at a crucial crossroads. Attempting to return Joe to his original body becomes a pivotal moment of self-discovery for both characters. In the confusion and a chase through a subway station, Terry intervenes, transporting them back to the “Great Before.”

Here, 22, having discovered her purpose through experiencing life in Joe’s body, completes her soul badge. Yet, Joe, clouded by bitterness, refuses to acknowledge the validity of her newfound purpose. The heartbreaking separation occurs as 22 retreats into the Zone, leaving Joe with a profound sense of loss.

However, Jerry, a wise and otherworldly presence, imparts a crucial revelation – a “spark” is not a predetermined purpose but simply the desire to live. Joe, grappling with this truth, discreetly uses 22’s badge to return to Earth.

Back on Earth, Joe’s jazz performance, once seen as the pinnacle of his dreams, doesn’t bring the expected fulfillment. Reflecting on the small objects collected by 22 during her time in his body, Joe realizes that true fulfillment lies in the shared experiences and simple joys of life.

Motivated by this profound realization, Joe enters the Zone, intending to return 22’s badge. However, he discovers her transformed into a lost soul, consumed by the belief that she lacks purpose. In a poignant moment, Joe reaches out to her, showcasing a sycamore seed as a reminder of her time on Earth.

Together, they unravel the deeper truth – a “spark” is not a fixed purpose but an appreciation for the gift of existence. Joe’s actions restore 22 to normal, and he returns her completed badge. As 22 embarks on her journey to Earth, Joe, now with a renewed zest for life, prepares to enter the “Great Beyond.”

In an unexpected twist, Jerry intervenes, offering Joe a second chance at life as a token of gratitude for inspiring 22. The next morning, Joe wakes up in his body, determined to embrace every facet of life, appreciating the beauty in the ordinary and finding fulfillment in the shared experiences that make life truly extraordinary.

Soul 2020 Parents Guide

Why is Soul Rated PG?

Soul is rated PG by the MMAP due to mild thematic elements and some language.

In the case of Soul, the PG rating is likely due to its exploration of existential themes, such as the afterlife and the meaning of life. Additionally, there might be some mild language and thematic elements that could require parental guidance, making it more suitable for children who are a bit older or who can better understand and process such concepts.

Content Overview:

  • Violence/Scary Scenes: Minimal. Joe falls into a manhole, and there are surreal scenes in the afterlife, but nothing intense.
  • Language: No explicit language. Some mild language may be present.
  • Mature Themes: The movie explores existential themes and the meaning of life, but in a family-friendly manner.
  • Positive Messages: Encourages viewers to appreciate life’s simple joys and find fulfillment in shared experiences.
  • Role Models and Representation: Positive role models with characters like Joe, who pursues his passion, and themes of diversity and inclusion.
  • Romance: No romantic content.
  • Drug/Alcohol Use: None.
  • Educational Value: Explores themes of music, passion, and the human experience in a thought-provoking manner.

Recommendation: “Soul” is generally suitable for all audiences, with positive messages and minimal objectionable content. Parents may find it suitable for children of all ages, but some scenes may be more appreciated by older kids.

Cast of Soul 2020 Film

  1. Jamie Foxx as Joe Gardner (Voice)
  2. Tina Fey as 22 (Voice)
  3. Phylicia Rashad as Libba (Voice)
  4. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson as Curley (Voice)
  5. Angela Bassett as Dorothea (Voice)
  6. Daveed Diggs as Paul (Voice)
  7. Graham Norton as Moonwind (Voice)
  8. Rachel House as Terry (Voice)
  9. Alice Braga as Counselor (Voice)
  10. Richard Ayoade as Counselor (Voice)
  11. Wes Studi as Counselor (Voice)
  12. Fortune Feimster as Counselor (Voice)
  13. Zenobia Shroff as Counselor (Voice)
  14. Donnell Rawlings as Dez (Voice)
  15. June Squibb as Gerel (Voice)
  16. Cora Champommier as Connie (Voice)
  17. Margo Hall as Melba (Voice)
  18. Rhodessa Jones as Lulu (Voice)


Soul” follows Joe Gardner, a middle school teacher and aspiring jazz musician, who falls into the afterlife after a mishap. Mistaken as a mentor, he teams up with a resistant soul named 22 to navigate the metaphysical “Great Before.” The two embark on a journey through the Zone, Earth, and the “Great Before,” discovering the true essence of a meaningful life. Themes of purpose, shared experiences, and the beauty of ordinary moments unfold, leading to a profound realization for both characters.

Key Points:

  1. Protagonist: Joe Gardner, a teacher and aspiring jazz musician.
  2. Accident: Falls into the afterlife, leading to an unexpected journey.
  3. Companion: Teams up with 22, a soul resisting existence.
  4. Exploration: Navigates the “Great Before,” the Zone, and Earth.
  5. Purpose: Discovers the true meaning of a “spark” and life’s fulfillment.
  6. Realization: Appreciation for shared experiences and ordinary joys.
  7. Resolution: Joe returns to life with a renewed zest, inspiring 22.
  8. Themes: Existentialism, purpose, shared experiences, and the value of life.
  9. Rating: PG for mild thematic elements and some language.
  10. Recommendation: Suitable for all audiences, with positive messages.
  • Premiered at the London Film Festival in October 2020.
  • Released on Disney+ on December 25, 2020.
  • The U.S. theatrical release is scheduled for January 12, 2024.