Sunday, January 3, 2021


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2020
Director: Pete Docter, Kemp Powers
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Phylicia Rashad, Donnell Rawlings, Questlove, Angela Bassett, Cora Champommier, Margo Hall, Daveed Diggs, Rhodessa Jones, Wes Studi
Genre: Animation, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
Studio Pixar and director Pete Docter are back, following their winning combination for "Monsters Inc.", "Up" and "Inside Out". This time around the story focuses on Joe Gardner, a music school teacher, whose main dream has always been to play with a jazz band. One day Joe finds out about auditions to play with the Dorothea Williams band, and he aces the audition securing a spot to play with her band. Sadly as he goes to the event, he suffers an accident which leaves him close to death. When that happens, his soul/essence, finds itself going to the "Great Beyond". Joe however refuses to accept this bleak outcome, particularly as he was about to catch his big break, for which he flees, and finds himself on the "Great Before". There, being confused by a mentor, he is assigned to train 22, a cynical soul who can't seem to find meaning and purpose no matter what mentor is assigned to her. They both accidentally find themselves back on Earth, with 22 now inhabiting Joe's body, and Joe living within the body of a therapy cat. As they both struggle with this, they both come to realize hidden truths they never wanted to face, all the while Terry, an accountant who keeps track of souls who are going to the "Great Beyond", suddenly realizes Joe's amiss, and comes to Earth to track both Joe and 22.
It goes without saying that each original release hailing from Pixar is something to celebrate (the quality concerning the output of their sequels is another story altogether). This time around they (Pete Docter, Kemp Powers and their Pixar team), tackle what could have been a difficult topic for children, namely death, and find a way of making it about souls going on a journey to the unknown. They ultimately side step religion altogether, and make a film about the joys of living, friendship, sacrifice and the love of music (& Jazz in particular). It's a film that while not perfectly balanced as "Inside Out" was, particularly the slapstick when Joe and 22 come back to Earth, where one can't help but get a feeling of an almost too perfect life for Joe the teacher (and where the fact that he doesn't have a family or lives by his own is left somewhat open ended), it's still a film that soars. It soars particularly when the characters go to the Great Beyond, marrying this magic aspect of the unknown, with the abstraction of the character design and where the animation itself is simply astonishing. It's a film that is technically flawless, aesthetically stunning, featuring a terrific score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (is there anything these two can't do), and with an impeccable voice talent, including Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Alice Braga and Graham Norton. A wonderful film worth watching!