It's often a criticism of storytelling for children - and to some extent, adults too - that achieving your life's passion or goal is meant to answer every question, and fulfil every desire.
The idea is that, if we persevere long enough, we'll eventually achieve what we wanted most in the world and be the better for it. As we in reality know, that's rarely the case and though it may be a well-intentioned fantasy, we tell it to children nonetheless.
For a Pixar movie to try and grapple with something as profound and philosophical as this might smack of creative hubris, but consider, this is the same creative force that managed to explore the depths of emotions themselves in 'Inside Out', not to mention the opening sequence of 'Up' detailing an entire family life.
Pixar has always reached high for its subject matter, and in 'Soul', it's diving deep into the human condition and getting at the very root of ourselves. Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx, is a music teacher whose true passion is to be a jazz performer. Though he's talented and bursting with ambition, he's never been quite able to make it. That all changes when he happens upon a chance opportunity to play with a legendary musician as part of her team. Along the way home, however, he falls down a manhole and wakes up as a disembodied spirit. Through a few twists and turns, he's paired up with 22 - voiced by Tina Fey - an annoying soul who's refused repeatedly to go down to Earth, simply because she can't see any point in it.
Again, what's made Pixar more successful than other animation studios is the capability of taking abstract ideas and concepts, and funneling them into accessible parables. 'Soul' is just the same, though at times, you wonder if directors Pete Docter and Kemp Powers bit off more than they could chew with it. Still, it's more than enjoyable and the humour is plentiful throughout, easily bouncing between slapstick moments and much more canny jokes.
The voice cast are fantastic, and Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey make an unlikely pairing but bounce off one another with ease. The supporting cast is an eclectic mix, featuring voices such as Rachel House of 'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' fame, Richard Ayoade, and Graham Norton as a shaman soul/spinning sign guy. Yes, really. It makes sense when you see it.
What gives 'Soul' its power, though, is the music and the jazz improvisations by Jon Baptiste of Stay Human. They're peppered throughout the story, along with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' synth-driven score, but it's in both how Jamie Foxx's character describes them and how those around them react to it, that 'Soul' gains its human touch.
Jazz works by improvising in a controlled environment. Musicians have to be virtuosos to play it right, and it doesn't always work as it should. 'Soul' is not that dissimilar. Pixar, and Disney itself, is a finely-tuned engine that can churn out sequel after sequel as and when it needs or wants to. 'Soul', however, is a splashy riff and a meandering tune that's unmistakably original. It may go off notes once or twice, but you won't be able to stop yourself from enjoying it right through.