Soul: The 8 Most Emotional Moments From The Pixar Movie

Joe Gardner in _Soul._

Pixar's Soul.

Soul is a fantastic piece of animation that everyone should watch. When I first saw the trailer for the movie, I fell in love with the music instantly, and the animation next. I thought it looked so interesting to see a music teacher as the focal point of a movie, and not only that but a struggling jazz musician as well. But what I didn’t know I would be in for was the crazy amount of emotion the movie made me feel. I mean, this is Pixar.

I’m pretty sure it’s a requirement for people to bring a box of tissues to any of their movies. But Soul was on another level of emotion. I recently just graduated from college and, like everyone else, has had struggles with the world and what my “purpose” is, but this movie made me think like an adult and really dig deep down within me that I didn’t think I could before, and it deserves to be recognized.

Soul may not be the cookie-cutter Pixar movie, but that’s the reason why it’s so good, and that’s why I’m going to be talking about the most emotional moments from the movie. And obviously, I am issuing a huge spoiler warning for this article. If you haven’t seen Soul, get a Disney+ and turn that on right now. If you have, feel free to read.

Joe in the jazz club.

When They Showed The Animations Of The Music Being Played

Okay, this may sound a little strange to some people, but as a former musician – and having a musician father – watching Joe play the piano had me feeling some type of way. During the first scene with the band kids when he was talking about his past, when he was playing at his audition, heck, even watching Dorothea play the saxophone during their performance at the Half Note - every note was perfect.

For any band geek or music person, every single note on the piano, or the saxophones, was pin-point accurate. The fact that the animators were able to do that, and still make the movie as realistic as it was, is astounding to me. It brought tears to my eyes. And the music was just absolutely beautiful in every way.

Joe calling a buddy.

The Moment Joe Got His “Moment”

I know the whole entire point of the movie is to accept what life gives you and live life day by day, but I couldn’t help but feel Joe’s same giddy glee when he ran out of that jazz club talking on the phone after nailing his audition. It almost felt like the moment someone finds out they get into the dream school, or they get a good grade on a project or a recommendation from someone. It’s that sudden spark of joy that makes it so much fun.

Joe (22) staring at the maple seeds.

When 22 Got To Experience The Simple Joys Of Life

I absolutely loved this scene. And I mean adored it. The fact that 22 could just sit there and stare at the beauty that was around her, the simple joys of life. A father and his daughter. Two friends talking about who knows what. A simple maple seed falling from a tree, right into her (Joe’s) hands. As someone who has sat out in her backyard only to live and breathe in the fresh air, I can completely identify with her wonder. The world is a beautiful place – we just need to take the time to appreciate it more and not focus on the smaller things in life.

22 and Joe looking at pizza in The Great Before

22 Experiencing Food For The First Time

I laughed so incredibly hard. I consider myself a pizza-connoisseur (I grew up in New York, after all), so I know what good pizza tastes like, and seeing 22 try that greasy slice of classic NY pizza was everything. And since she had never experienced food before in the Great Before, she had never known how amazing a good slice of pizza can taste. That alone will make any soul want to come down to Earth.

But it made me think about all the simple joys that food can bring. Having that slice of cake after dinner with your date, ordering takeout on New Year’s Eve, sharing a pizza with friends – food truly brings joy and memories, something that I don’t think we quite understand yet considering we usually only eat it to quell our stomach pains. But when you really think about it, food is a source of happiness.

Joe in the band room.

When Joe (22) Was Watching Connie Play Her Solo

22 was ready to give up being in Joe's body because she hated the world around them, and then all of a sudden, they get a knock on their door - Connie, one of Joe's students, wants to quit. 22, at first, is supportive of this because she doesn't find passion in anything (except pizza at this point), but once she sees Connie practice a piece before "quitting," she gets lost in the music, watching this young girl blow her heart out, showing she has some real talent and just wants the encouragement she deserves.

But the sweeter part was when 22, someone who didn’t think she could ever have passion, sees that and acknowledges that if someone like Connie, who wanted to quit and didn’t, could find her own spark again, then so could she. Such a great way to show the reigniting of a spark.

22 becoming a lost soul.

When 22 Became a Lost Soul

Let me tell you, I was crying like a little baby during this part. Finally, when 22 begins to see life for the first time and starts to value the world around her rather than just finding a soul purpose (pun intended), Joe turns around and says that's not passion - "that's just regular old living." This in turn leads to a huge fight between them where she wants to explore being a human more, to find her spark, but Joe wants his body back.

When they're sent back to the Great Before, she sees that her Earth Badge is complete, but at Joe's pestering and angry remarks at her, saying she only got it because she was in his body, she feels lost. She feels that she didn't find her sole purpose, and that everything she thought she had come to love was a lie.

And, now separated, 22 finally starts to feel the severeness of what had happened. That she feels she has no purpose, and that even the things she found joy in were stupid. From there, all of her insecurities start to bubble up and take over until she's nothing but a former shadow of herself, a shell. I feel that so many people, whether younger or older, have experienced this moment, when everything feels lost and we don't know what to do. We're just trapped, and that's exactly what 22 was going through.

The words of her past mentors start to override her, and so do the words of Joe, and nothing seems to make sense. It's a pure form of an animated panic attack. There are folks who face this on a daily basis, and seeing it represented so well in an animated movie of all things is amazing and heartbreaking at the same time.

22 and Joe falling to earth.

When Joe Helped 22 Find Her Soul Again

And cue the second part where I cried like a baby, although for a good reason this time. At this moment, we truly see the character arc of Joe, how he went from this one man who thought his sole purpose in life was to play music and become a famous jazz musician, to a man who realizes that you don’t need a purpose to be fulfilled – you just need to be happy and live life to the fullest, to the best that you can.

And when he basically told 22 that, giving her the maple seed that she had been so enamored with, it spoke volumes about how he has changed, from this self-centered man to someone who understands 22’s point of life, and that was just stunning. Her soul is found once more, and he guides her to earth as a true mentor this time around.

Joe as a young child.

The Piano Scene Near The Very End

Why does Pixar music always make me cry? I don’t know. But what I do know is that this is the most wholesome – and in my eyes the most emotional moment – of the movie. Joe just finished the gig of his life but doesn’t feel like how he thought he would and goes home, self-contemplating, playing his piano. There, we get one of the most moving scenes I think of Pixar ever, where Joe begins to see the world through 22’s eyes, and we see flashbacks of his memories as a son, a teenager, a teacher, and just as a human being.

And at that moment he recognizes that life doesn’t need to have an end goal. Yes, it’s nice to have your passions, but when you get lost in them then you as well become lost. You need to find joy in the little things, like a bite of pizza or a really good bagel, or even a spool from someone’s shop. Once you can learn to appreciate life and love it for what it is, only then can you feel that you have found your purpose – living. What a fantastic way to bring a character full-circle.

I think we all need more than a box of tissues for this one. Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, and everyone involved did something amazing. Thankfully even though Soul has come out, Pixar has already announced their next titles - which means more tissues will be needed in the future. What were your favorite moments of Soul?

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!