A new Pixar movie is always like a visit from an old friend. They can be warm and comforting and familiar, while at the same time feeling unique and surprising. Soul is certainly no exception. While the movie had a rough road to audiences, eventually arriving on Disney+ rather than in theaters, the film was been welcomed by audiences and critics alike, with many viewing it as on e of Pixar's absolute best films. It's so good that many Pixar fans might have forgotten one of the most fun things to do with any Pixar film, go for an easter egg hunt.
Easter eggs have become common and even expected practice in animated films but no more so than in the movies of Pixar Animation Studios. There are several specific Pixar easter eggs that you can expect to find in nearly every film, and countless more that get added just for fun. Here are a few of our favorite easter eggs found in Soul.
The Pizza Planet Truck In Soul
One of the classic Pixar easter eggs is the Pizza Planet Truck. This pizza delivery pickup didn't start out as an easter egg, it was actually part of the story in the original Toy Story, but since then the familiar vehicle has found its way into nearly every Pixar movie (it's missing from The Incredibles). It can be spotted in Soul at the point where Joe and 22 first arrive at the Hall of Everything. To be sure, the hall actually is the hall of everything Pixar, as references to nearly every film can be found here in one place or another, but the truck can be seen clearly in the image above, to the left of our main characters as one of the few items in color.
Pixar first got noticed thanks to a little animated short called Luxo Jr. It was a simple little piece of animation about a table lamp and a yellow toy ball. That lamp has gone on to become visible at the beginning of every Pixar movie as part of the company logo. However, that's not the only place it can be seen in Soul. It is also found in the Hall of Everything, just a few moments after the Pizza Planet truck, just sitting in the background. One of the young souls is peering up at it, in a position very much like that of the toy ball from the original short. And speaking of that toy ball...
The Luxo Ball, the yellow ball with the red star, is, like the Pizza Planet Truck, one of those easter eggs you can pretty much count on appearing in any Pixar film. Soul certainly does not disappoint, but the ball is easy to miss in this film, as it's not the bright and colorful object we're used to seeing. The ball can be found in 22's home after the visit to the Hall of Everything. It's stuck under a table in the background shadows, but the silhouette of the ball and that familiar star are clear.
We learn in Soul that 22 has had countless previous mentors who have attempted to help her find the missing spark she needs to go down and exist on earth. In a brief shot in 22's home/cardboard box, we get an idea of just the massive number of people who have tried. We see names like Stephen Hawking, Aretha Franklin, Gandhi and Confucius. However, we also see one name that the average viewer might overlook but Pixar fans will know. Joe Ranft, whose name tag is right next to Aretha Franklin's, was an original member of the Pixar Brain Trust. He was a story writer on both the original Toy Story and A Bug's Life and a co-director of the first Cars film. Ranft was tragically killed in a car accident in 2005.
Another classic Pixar easter egg is to drop in a reference to the studio's next film in the current one. Frequently, these easter eggs can't even be recognized until after we've seen the next movie, but we know enough about Pixar's first 2021 project to recognize the reference in Soul. The movie is called Luca and it will take place on the Italian Riviera. In the window of a travel agency we see a poster advertising vacations to a place called Portorosso, and it includes a reference to Luca Airlines, as the best way to get there. This is likely to be not only a way to use the film's name, but also an actual reference to the place the new movie is set.
Soul marks the fourth Pixar film directed by Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter. While many have spoken about the similarities between Soul and his last film, Inside Out, there is actually a shoutout to Docter's first film here as well. 20 years ago Pete Docter directed Monsters Inc and the subway train that Joe and 22 get on in the film is number 2319, the same code used by the Child Detection Agency to note a human element making its way into the monster world.
Pixar movies have dealt with such unique stories over the years that there is very little that they all truly have in common. However, one element that has always been there is John Ratzenberger. The actor has voiced a character in every Pixar movie from Toy Story forward. Sometimes he's been a major character, other times, just a cameo, but he's always been there, until now. John Ratzenberger's voice actually isn't in Soul, and so, to keep his streak alive, his likeness is. When Joe, as a cat, has to chase 22, as Joe, down into the subway, they run past a guy who will look familiar to fans of Cheers. It's Ratzenberger's digital likeness, so he is in the movie.
These are only a few of the easter eggs in Soul. There many others that aren't specific to Pixar, or even Disney as a whole. Next time you watch Soul, keep a look out for these and many others, because you probably should watch Soul again.