Did you watch Soul on Disney+ this past holiday season? Did you then immediately see colors brighter, breathe air deeper and feel sheer joy for simply being alive?
The 23rd feature film from Pixar arrived on Disney’s streaming service Christmas day with an optimistic message for audiences. Soul follows musician-turned-teacher Joe, voiced by Jamie Foxx, who unexpectedly dies on his way to what he believes could be his big break in music.
His soul then embarks on an adventure to return to his body and along the way he discovers life isn’t about accomplishments or success; it’s the journey of living that gives us all purpose.
Combined with a first-ever Black male lead Pixar character, some elevated dialogue about metaphysics and soul composition, Soul is a refreshing, contemporary take on life’s big questions. Don’t want the uplifting feels to end just yet? Here’s seven flicks to help you continue looking at the big picture after watching Soul:
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
This Jimmy Stewart-led classic may be the start of the meaning-of-life genre. Main character George Bailey believes he has lived an unremarkable life until a Christmas angel intercedes, showing Bailey what the world would be like if he’d never been born. Reflecting on the value of family and community, It’s a Wonderful Life shows audiences the beauty of the average person’s existence. Per the advice of Clarence the angel, no man is a failure who has friends.
The Sandman stars in this Wonderful Life comedic reimagining as overworked architect Michael. Mysteriously gifted with a ‘universal’ remote at Bed, Bath and Beyond one night, Michael gains the ability to fast-forward through life as he chooses. The magic remote quickly turns into a curse, as Michael unintentionally zooms through precious time with his family. Click maintains ridiculous humor central to the Sandlerverse while touching on the idea that all time with family is irreplaceable.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
This biographical drama follows the real-life story of Chris Garnder, played by Will Smith, through a year of poverty and eventual homelessness, brought on by a nosedive in his career in sales. The Pursuit of Happyness is as much about struggle as it is about life’s victories by way of perseverance.
The Bucket List (2007)
Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson portray two terminally ill gentlemen from completely different backgrounds who cross paths while receiving cancer treatment. The Bucket List follows the unlikely pair through the adventures and tasks they decide to complete before they “kick the bucket.” The message here is fairly simple; live before you die– and most importantly, make connections before you go.
Director Jean-Marc Vallee brings the 2012 memoir by Cheryl Strayed to life in this drama starring Reese Witherspoon. Following her divorce, Witherspoon’s Strayed takes off on a hiking journey up the Pacific Crest Trail in search of something greater, as she feels her life has been less-than. Her backpacking trip leads her to self-reflect and look back on the traumas of her past. The challenges Cheryl faces on the PCT ultimately teach her to be vulnerable and brave on her journey of healing.
Eat Pray Love (2010)
Eat Pray Love celebrates the three things in life we often hold back on. The film adapts Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir of the same name and follows Gilbert after a life-altering divorce. Gilbert, portrayed by Julia Roberts, embarks on an international expedition of self-discovery. In three different countries, she learns what it means to truly eat deliciously, practice prayer, and unexpectedly fall in love. This romance film makes you want to book a flight and never look back.
Before Soul came Pixar’s Onward, the story of two brothers who go on a magical quest for a chance to spend a day with their late father. Equal parts fantasy and adventure, Onward is a journey with many lighthearted moments. Like Soul, Onward ends with an unexpected lesson: don’t look beyond those you have in search of those you are missing.