It was an amazing night! Seeing such stars as Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey step out right in front of us on stage! Why? Because they are among the cast starring in Pixar’s “Soul,” the animation studio’s most existential film yet — and its most jazzy.
Pixar’s new creative head, two-time Oscar winner behind classics like “Monsters Inc.,” “Up” and “Inside Out,” Pete Docter, appeared at the D23 Expo on Saturday to share details of the studio’s summer release.
Prior to D23, there was very little known about “Soul,” with Disney only releasing this cryptic logline: “Ever wonder where your passion, your dreams and your interests come from? What is it that makes you… YOU? Pixar Animation Studios will take you on a journey from the streets of New York City to the cosmic realms to discover the answers to life’s most important questions.”
The film will explore the You Seminar, an academy where souls learn how to build passion within themselves before graduating and inhabiting a newborn child. Foxx plays, Joe Gardner, a man with a deep love for jazz, who is stuck as a middle school music teacher. After years of longing to perform onstage rather than teach, Joe finally gets his big break after an open mic at the Half Note Club that impresses the other players so much that he gets a gig.
But as he celebrates, an accident separates Joe from his soul, and his soul travels back to the You Seminar, where he meets other souls-in-training that help him find his way back to Earth. Among them is 21, played by Fey, a soul who has spent eons at the You Seminar and has a dim view of human life.
Joining Foxx and Fey in the cast are Phylicia Rashad, Questlove and Daveed Diggs. Nine Inch Nails duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will compose the score, while “Late Night With Stephen Colbert” bandleader and musical director Jon Batiste will compose original jazz for the film.
Docter took over as Pixar’s creative head after founder John Lasseter stepped down from the company over sexual misconduct accusations. With Lasseter’s last project, “Toy Story 4,” now out, Docter is taking the studio into the 2020s as it plans to pivot back to original films. While the studio hasn’t completely abandoned original films in recent years — it won an Oscar in 2018 for “Coco” — its past four summer releases have been sequels: “Finding Dory,” “Cars 3,” “Incredibles 2” and the aforementioned “Toy Story 4.”
“Soul” hits theaters June 19.