Is the new Pixar animated film ok for children? Soul Movie Review | Safe for Kids?, an honest parent guide to the new Disney film. No spoilers! #PixarSoul May contain commissioned links.
Soul Movie Review | Safe for Kids?
Or forever a broken soul?
If there was ever a year when the world is looking for a little healing for the soul – this is it. Broken souls looking for a reprieve from the dumpster fire year of 2020, it about sums up how we all are currently feeling. Following a chaotic Pixar Onward release, I didn’t find it surprising at all when Pixar took the opportunity to push back the release of Soul from summer 2020 to exclusive Disney+ streaming for December 25, 2020. But is this the Christmas present we are looking for? Or another inevitable letdown of the year?
In this Pixar Soul Movie Review | Safe for Kids?, I’m talking visuals, the story, a full PG rating breakdown, and what kids’ age recommendation is suggested for this “heavy” Disney Pixar film. A no spoiler parent review – was this original animated feature worth the wait to see on Disney+? Or is this the soul crusher to cap the end of 2020?
As the first straight-to-streaming Pixar film (technically Onward did have a short in-theater release), I expected the visuals of Soul to be lacking compared to the big movie screen. However, I still found the animation visually stunning, breathtaking and surprising.
Even given the unusual hardships of finishing a movie during a pandemic, Pixar still has the magic touch to wow the audience with the beauty of a New York City landscape while also reaching for artistically daring and abstract realms of The Great Before and The Great Beyond. The movement through these two completely diverse universes throughout the film almost satisfies the wanderlust craving soul. But most certainly, the visuals alone satisfy the whimsical, hopeful soul.
It’s the most ambitious story trope for Pixar yet. The meaning of life, fulfilling our life’s purpose, living our best lives, leaving a lasting legacy – and all that jazz (pun intended), it’s a story arc with heavy adult messaging told in a lighter, easier to digest Pixar way. Inventive and yet familiar, deep and yet humorous, sad and yet hopeful, it’s a constant dichotomy of alternate forces that pulls your heart back and forth throughout the film. I told you, HEAVY stuff.
It’s in this heaviness that Pixar explores so many hard-hitting themes through the story’s main character, Joe Gardner: life, death, purpose, passion, grief, loss, mental health, spirituality, creativity, mid-life crises, friendship, love. More importantly, the diversity of this film and the celebration of Black history and jazz music contribution to American society – it’s a beautiful tribute. Even the Soul soundtrack is a beautiful and worthy notable success for this film. Listen closely to the music in New York versus The Great Beyond. It’s an emotional movement throughout the movie.
Directed by Pete Docter of “Inside Out,” it’s not completely unchartered territory for this emotion-driven filmmaker. But while certainly thought provoking, this movie didn’t quite hit the mark in the heartstring pulling, ugly crying Pixar moment. At least not for me. Perhaps reaching a little too high and too hard for a kids film, the meaning of life story gets a little muddled in the middle. Relying heavily on dialogue and less on physical comedy or action/adventure, the movie has it’s slow spots. Kids and adults may be reaching for that pause button.
Confession, I didn’t get all choked up like I expected to. I even watched twice (once without the kids) to see if I could coax a few more tears out of me. Nope. While not as gut-wrenching as Bing Bong’s goodbye or Riley’s family reunion, the existential crisis hits differently. Maybe being in quarantine too long, or sitting with our own reflections in our current world on pause, but I can’t help but think the timing of this movie release is still spot-on for Pixar. Ironically, it’s a reflective Pixar that grew up a little this year. The most adult film of Pixar’s repertoire, it’s a bittersweet ending and goodbye to 2020.
But regrettably, no heartstring pulling, ugly crying Pixar tears for me. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I watch it again in December. Or at least, cry a few more tears.
That PG Rating Explained
Warning: “some language” ahead. Is Pixar’s Soul movie kid friendly? It’s no secret that I am highly skeptical of all MPAA ratings (um hello, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker not disclosing any language??). With film ratings unpredictable these days, PG rating oscillating between Incredibles 2 intense to Christopher Robin calm, having fully disclosed parent guidelines can help determine if a movie is family friendly – and worth possibly paying those Disney+ subscription fees. (Most recently, the Maleficent: Mistress of Evil PG rating was very questionable.)
Why is Soul rated PG? With a new Disney Pixar animated film, is this Soul Movie Review | Safe for Kids? Parents should be concerned. Soul is rated PG for “thematic elements and some language.” Uh-oh. What kind of language are we talking about? Is Pixar Soul safe for kids to see? Is Soul ok for children? Or does Pixar’s potty mouth continue?
Violence. Keeping with the Pixar reputation, the violence and suspense throughout the film are minimal and very cartoon/nonrealistic. Appreciated given a straight-to-streaming home release.
Adult themes. Talk about DEEP. While Soul is family-friendly, it’s not surprising that a “what’s the meaning of life” movie would be heavy in the adult theme department. Heavy dialogue with extensive vocabulary (words like hypothetical and astro-transmigration) versus physical comedy and action may bore little ones. Pixar also does touch on spirituality and astrology that may raise some questions. And with any life and death film, certain scenes may be triggering for little ones who have experienced grief and loss.
Language. True to their word, Pixar does have some language. There’s one word that I WOULD expect in such a film. H-E-double-hockey sticks is said numerous times in a row in one small scene of the film (I counted 20+), out of the mouths of children. While used in correct connotation, this certain scene had immediate effect on my 7-year old girl, who took to parroting what she saw on screen over and over. (This resulted in a “good” parenting moment, and a facepalm.) Be warned for those who consider this term a swear word.
While certainly not of the Incredibles 2 level of swear words, Pixar does take liberty to use H-E-double-hockey sticks as a punchline moment. One that can obviously have a lasting effect on little ones. There’s also one use of the word “crap.” More importantly, there are some demeaning non-language terms used including “idiot” and “imbecile” used to describe one of the characters. The use of the word “stupid” is also repeated twice, but no other language to report.
What age rating is recommended to watch Pixar Soul?
Is Soul safe for kids? 1 hour and 40 minutes of heavy life stuff. While rated PG, Pixar’s Soul is a different kind of Pixar film. Not quite as attention holding as Inside Out, not karaoke singing worthy as Coco, or adventure seeking as Up, it’s the most adult-like Pixar film I have ever watched. And I think that plays a huge part in the age recommendation.
What Pixar Soul movie age rating is recommend for kids? I would think that older children, about 9-10 years old would appreciate this film more than younger kids, especially wiggle worm toddlers. While the animated visuals can hold kids’ attention spans for awhile, about 60 minutes in is when my 7-year old daughter asked me if “the movie is over yet?”
But I will say, streaming the film on Disney+ may have it’s benefits. Allowing for pause button breaks in the comfort of home may make this family-friendly film more enjoyable. Especially with the magic of Disney and the magic of Christmas – it’s a powerful combo.
Every now and then, we need something to wake up our souls. Pixar’s Soul hits deep, hits hard and hits heavy in 2020 – but not quite soul quenching. While the story doesn’t quite hit the mark for Pixar’s high gut-wrenching standards, can we truly expect a movie to answer the all-important question of “what’s the meaning of life” for us? It might be too overreaching for even Pixar. But I appreciate the risk taken, the heavy topics explored, and creative approach to an older, more mature Pixar film.
Pixar nerds will want to stay for the very last credit, as there is one very short end credit scene as well as some fun in-credit animations.
The timing has never been more impeccable for a Pixar movie release. Pixar’s Soul literally hits your soul in a poignant “2020” sort of way. And with everyone’s world on pause, it’s a message of hope that we can all use right now, and the spark that we all need in this moment of our lives.
Disney and Pixar’s Soul | Official Trailer 2 | Disney+
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