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S4: What’s in the box, your.
S1: Hello and welcome to Slate spoiler specials. I’m Karen Hines, staff writer at Slate, and I’m joined by Dan Kois, writer and editor for Slate. Welcome, Dan.
S5: Thanks, Kiran. I am excited to be here.
S1: So today we’re spoiling saw the new Pixar movie directed by Pete Docter and CO directed by Kent Powers, will go over the general plot first. I think as anyone who’s seen the trailer knows, this focuses on a band teacher named Joe, played by Jamie Fox, who pretty much right after scoring the jazz gig of his life as part of the Dorothea Williams Quartet, unfortunately falls through a manhole and die, falls into a coma and his soul goes into the great beyond. Dan, you want to talk a little bit about what he finds in the quote unquote, afterlife?
S5: Sure. The afterlife, he finds is and is not quite the afterlife he potentially has imagined. It’s a very Pixar and invention of a ramp leading to a sort of great world in the sky that suggests while there’s Valhalla or Heaven or whatever it is that you think you might be going to. But Joe doesn’t think he belongs there. And so he instead of peacefully making his way up the ramp toward the real afterlife, instead tries to escape and in fact, wiggles his way out of the death that awaits him and ends up in what the movie refers to as the great before a kind of interdimensional space in which people yet to be born, souls yet to be born, gather to learn what kind of people they will eventually become before they are sent to Earth to be born. Once he lands there, Joe still on the run from the cosmic authorities who think he ought to be dead, ends up mentoring a lost soul who has spent millennia avoiding life on Earth, trying to convince the soul that life is worth living, while also trying to find his own way back to his body.
S1: Jackson, I will say, though, in your description of part of the thing about what happens when you die, that giant ramp leading up to basically your end point is kind of scary because it’s portrayed very much like like a bug zapper, like a big lamp. And as soon as the soul hit the record and the soul disappears, which I was like, that seems like dangerous isn’t the right word for it because you’re already dead. But it’s like almost kind of mystic, like, oh, there goes your soul. It’s snuffed out.
S2: Does it have any new to or is it just oblivion or cosmology does not make it clear.
S1: Does seem very much like oblivion. But so yeah, he ends up mentoring the soul number 22 who has not been able to find their spark like they have little kind of almost Girl Scout or Boy Scout badge kind of cards that they have to completely fill in before they think they can go to Earth. A number twenty two has just not been able to fill in the last thing, which is kind of the thing that gives you joie de vivre. It sort of implies known as your spark. And as number twenty two tries to find the spark and tries to get back to Earth, they kind of get to the movies first big twist, which is not hinted at in any of the promotional materials, which is that they do end up back on Earth but not in their right bodies.
S5: Correct. So Joe manages to take number twenty two with them in a dive straight back down toward his body, lying in a hospital. When the two souls arrive at that body, there is a therapy cat sitting on Camacho’s lap and Joe ends up in the body of the therapy cat and number twenty two ends up in the body of Joe. So now they are in modern day New York with a previously untested human soul and an adult black body, while an adult black man is in the body of a very neurotic.
S1: I feel like they mostly carry off. That was pretty well they number 22, as voiced by Tina Fey. And her voice is the one coming out of Joe’s body as soon as that kind of soul swap happens. But they do occasionally switch back every now and then to show what other characters are seeing, which is Joe talking normally, occasionally interspersed with a cat meowing and very, very kind of very vehemently.
S5: Very plaintively. Yeah. And of course, what’s happening with Joe’s body, that what seems odd to the people who know him as he wanders around New York is that he is occupied by a soul who’s never been a human before, who, for example, has never walked or used a telephone or had a haircut or eaten pizza in one of the movie’s most evocative scenes. And the journey that number twenty two is going through is that this soul, it’s not only that the soul is never quite found there, Spark, it’s that they’ve completely given up on the idea of ever being human and in fact has become pretty recalcitrant about the idea of ever leaving the great before. Number twenty two has no interest at this point in ever becoming human is. Just a lot easier to just sit on their butt and watch like great beyond HBO and not do anything, and the movie has all these flashbacks of the many, many a plus famous mentors who over history have tried to convince number 20 to the life on earth is worth living. And they’ve all completely failed. So we get shots of number twenty two driving Mother Teresa crazy or making Gandhi snap because number twenty two is just that mischievous and annoying that even the great thinkers of history could not convince No. Twenty two that life is worth living.
S1: Mm hmm. And it ends up being that just like experiencing life on Earth, as you were mentioning, is is what kind of pushes number twenty two towards deciding that maybe they do want to live a life like everything that they experience, like they established when they’re in the great before that the the preschool’s as they were, don’t have any sense of smell, don’t have any sense of taste, can’t really enjoy more tactile or sensory things. But as soon as she comes to Earth and is in Joe’s body, she suddenly can smell the city, she can feel wind and she can again taste pizza. And that’s kind of what starts to give her a joy for life.
S5: There’s a bunch of other twists. Of course, this is a Pixar movie, so it’s going to go a lot of directions before it gets to the heartwarming conclusion. Joe. And twenty two are found eventually by this interdimensional functionary, this Abacas number cruncher who’s been hunting them because they know that a soul that was supposed to be zapped into the afterlife was not there, brought back into the great before. Twenty two finds their spark, but Joe ends up making his way back to Earth and into his own body, finally leaving twenty two in the dust. And Joe finally gets to play the gig, the jazz gig he’s been waiting for all his life with a fabulous group of musicians who truly understand his talent. It’s exactly the triumph he hopes it will be. But yet he’s left unfulfilled. He realizes that something is missing and he comes to learn that twenty two has become a lost soul. And there’s this whole very evocative landscape in the great before where lost souls live souls who have sort of who either are on earth or are not on earth, but have become stuck in their heads in some way, obsessed with some particular thing, and unable to shake themselves free of it. It’s a evocative, if slightly vague image that the movie doesn’t 100 percent fully explain.
S1: It’s also really scary.
S5: Yeah, it’s scary. But there’s like it’s like a mix of mental illness and not understanding your reason to be on Earth. But that is also tied weirdly to the experience of being, quote, in the zone, that artistic mode that you get in when you’re totally in a in a state of flow.
S1: Words like if you’re too in the zone, you’ll turn into there’s no face monster. Right.
S5: And so Joe rescues twenty two and twenty two ends up, we believe, being sent to Earth to live a full life somewhere. We don’t know where. We don’t actually see twenty two landing in a baby’s body. We’re led to believe the twenty two has finally gotten the chance that for so long they didn’t even think they wanted to live on earth. And Joe has come to terms with this notion that the thing that you think is what drives you, the the passion that you think you’ve been pursuing all your life might not actually be the most important thing in your life. The most important thing in your life might be, let’s say it together, the experiences you have along the way.
S1: I did. I was just talking to our colleague Forrest about this, where I I thought, like, they came to that realization almost too late in the game because they he spent so much of the movie being like, oh, because I wasn’t a jazz musician, my life on Earth was meaningless because I was doing this. And like, the idea of having a day job is somehow dishonorable. It isn’t quite the right word, but like otherwise, a drag or something that kind of demeans you. And they kind of they buy into that for so long just because that is what Joe believes for so long that I felt like the twist at the end almost doesn’t really recover from it because the ultimate message is nice.
S2: But yeah, his job is really dispiriting. Right. He’s a high school band teacher and you know, his most of his students are barely paying attention or not that committed to it. But the one nice move that the movie makes is that it gives him one very talented trombone student who it’s clear how good she is. And in a scene sort of in the middle of the movie, at the point in which Joe is stuck in the cat’s body and twenty two is stuck in Joe’s body, the student comes to Joe’s apartment for a private lesson, but clearly dispirited herself.
S5: By her sort of lack of passion or enthusiasm or her perceived lack of skill at her instrument and twenty two gets the experience of briefly inspiring a student. The thing that theoretically should have been inspiring to Joe all along this moment of connection between a student and a teacher. And it seems to me that’s the first hitch the movie gives as to what its theme is eventually going to be. But you’re right that it takes Joe so long to get there and so many sort of slapstick twists to arrive at this point that I did find myself like it’s several points are in the movie being like Joe, the gig is not going to matter as much as you think I get over it.
S1: Yeah. I also did want to mention there’s a point that you made in your excellent review on Slate Dotcom, which anyone can read right now about the direction of the film, especially as it hits the first twist that we discussed where Joe is kind of sort of teaching number twenty two to enjoy life, where it almost turns into the kind of magical black person trope. And I was hoping to talk a little bit about how the movie goes in that direction.
S2: It’s a weird the whole the movie’s entire treatment of race, I think is fascinating and a little bit fraught, in part because of its corporate parents relationship with race over the years. Right. So this is the first Pixar movie ever to have a black protagonist. And Pixar has, for its entire history, been run by a very small coterie of middle aged white men. And to its credit, the company has tried to expand its palette in recent years and often very successfully. But it’s it’s always curious to me that the ways that it doesn’t and it’s always worth investigating to me the ways that it tells those stories. And so in this movie, we have a story that’s very dedicated to digging into very culturally particular aspects of black life in America.
S5: It’s it’s deeply interested in jazz and it has an entire sequence, a plot turning sequence set in a black barbershop. And in fact, it’s that sequence in the black barbershop that seems to really be a turning point for twenty two in experiencing a kind of joy in life on Earth. But of course, twenty two is voiced by Tina Fey, the whitest of white women. And it struck me as very odd that on a a purely textual level, you have a movie about a possibly dead and reincarnated magical in some way black character taking a white character to a black barbershop where that white character discovers how great life really can be, like literally finds their spark. And, you know, that’s a trope that has color movies forever. And it’s muddied by the very weird cosmological story that this movie is telling. But it’s still a little bit weird. And it also stands in opposition, I think, to my my white eye, very affectionate and authentically fun way. It does portray all these touchstones of black cultural life that jazz is handled wonderfully. The scene in the Black Barbershop is very funny and really reinvigorates very familiar. Location has been used in movie after movie. And obviously that’s me saying that’s who the hell knows. But what this one thing this movie really left me hungry for is a lot of essays by black writers about how the movie handles race and how it reads to a black audience. I’m going to be really interested to see how black audiences respond to this movie.
S1: Mm hmm. I just feel like to a certain degree, either somebody on the creative team was aware of it or trying to implicitly acknowledge it. And that number 22 says that the voice that they’re using, like they don’t actually have a voice and they just knew they could sound like anybody. And they they demonstrate this for by having several different actors like do the lines, but ultimately chose a white woman’s voice. Can they find that it’s the best annoying other people? Me.
S2: What did what did you think of the music in this movie? I think it’s really fun to talk about and it has these two sort of parallel scores going to do different jobs. You want to talk about that?
S1: I really loved it. I mean, I think it kind of even from the Disney logo does a good job of being very musically playful because the Disney does this a lot where like the logo, like for Beauty and the Beast, they had it as a big a big Disney cast. It became like a big, very kind of renaissance castle and like changing the musical score and stuff like that just to kind of hint at what movie they’re doing. And in this case, the. Disney sound is obviously being played by Joe’s middle school band, so it just sounds like awful, which is just so, so funny. And then if I remember correctly, it does coalesce into a much more jazzy and professional sound, which again, like hints at the overall arc in the movie. And I thought that the two sides of the score, the kind of jazz aspect which is ever present in Joe’s life, as well as the kind of more electronic sound that we all know and love for from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, that they mesh pretty well ultimately in the end. Also, it is, I think, one of Reznor and Ross is kind of more pastel scores, if that makes sense, like it’s very friendly and makes sense for the location that it’s in because it’s predominantly in the great beyond and great before scenes that that music is playing.
S2: Right. It’s sort of it’s a little spy. Right. Like, reminds me of music for airports a little bit. It’s it’s past is a nice way to think of it. It is meant to be the music. It’s meant to be unearthly and it’s meant to be cosmic and soothing in some way because it’s meant to sort of counteract the anxiety, the extreme anxiety that Joe’s going to lands and these places and to comedically to offer a comedic counterpoint to his desperate attempt to escape from the bug zapper that awaits. And then the jazz is, I thought, just very good. I mean, it’s. I think that anyone who is a scholar of jazz, I’m sure, will be like, well, that’s not what this ensemble will be playing in a club in New York. It’s very mainstream jazz and obviously palatable to a wide audience. But the movie does. And John Baptiste’s jazz score does reward a virtuosity and portray virtuosity in ways that I really love. There’s this female bandleader who wails on the saxophone. There’s Joe on the piano. There’s Joe’s former student on the drums. And each one of them gets a showcase moment. And the movie does something with animation that I’ve never really seen a movie pull off before. And in fact, most live action movies can offer either, which is just that the the music being played clearly and carefully corresponds to what the performers and instruments.
S5: Right. That the Joe’s fingers on the keys are playing what we are hearing at any given moment. The Dorothea’s fingers on the keys of her saxophone or playing what we’re hearing at any given moment, the drums match up and I can’t even imagine the level of work it took for Pixar animators to pull that off. It must have taken forever, but it’s very rewarding and it contributes to the sense that the jazz in this movie is as alive for us, the audience, as it is for Joe, the guy who loves it the most and who spends much of his life and afterlife trying to convince people how much it matters and how important it is to him.
S1: I think they also take visually representing just how wonderful this music is a step further, as when Joe gets in the zone, when he’s playing, it turns into this very it’s it’s kind of like when in Ratatouille to I almost just call it a ratatouille because I’m so used to doing that. But when Remy the Rat eats something and the flavor is kind of just pop up in a sort of synesthesia kind of way, the same thing happens here, like when Joe’s playing music and it like lifts him into this world that sort of looks like like the punch drunk love interest, just a wash of colors that sort of mellow out and change depending on where he’s playing. And it’s really, really beautiful.
S2: Yeah, I really like that a lot, despite the fact that I didn’t exactly understand what being in the zone has to do with being an obsessed, lost soul. But I really loved both the scores of this. And one thing I love about them is how they both represent stretches for Pixar specifically and for animated movies more like, you know, Pixar has had a very particular kind of score forever that is best understood for most people. As you think of Michael Jackson score for kind of like it’s sprightly and it’s emotional and and it sounds a certain way. But both sides of the music in this movie sound very different from that. They that are just right for what they’re trying to do.
S1: I was thinking about innovation, I guess, in terms of the animation, too, just because I felt like all the scenes in the great before and great beyond are so just eye popping and stunning. And especially with Teri, the sole counter and the Jerry all the social counselors there, they look like doodles that somehow move like they’re all just kind of composed out of one line rather than being a solid figure. And the way that they move is so fluid and kind of unimaginable. Like, I don’t know how you would come up with that. And everything is so incredible to look at in the great before that when they return to Earth, it’s almost disappointing. Like it’s everything is obviously incredibly, beautifully animated. But it’s not it doesn’t feel like they’re necessarily doing anything new on Earth in a way that feels particularly innovative, if that makes sense.
S2: No, I mean, they’re definitely just trying to make New York look like New York, which is not which is something that plenty of movies and animated movies have done before. And Pixar is better at it than anyone else. So the pizza rat really looks like pizza. But and that’s interesting about the great. Before I actually was very turned off by the design of the great before and just all of it ran to the great beyond. I loved Jerry, the Jerry’s and Terry. I love that design, which, as you say, is I mean, it’s it’s like a Picasso sketch come to life, a two dimensional single line that can move and flow a long X, Y and Z axes in very interesting ways. And especially when Terry ends up on Earth, his two dimensionality interacts with the three dimensionality of those environments. That’s really fun. But I found the like the like ramp and the bug zapper and then the fluffy clouds and the cute little blobs. I found those like. Very uninspiring, like it look like an Apple ad, it’s outtakes from inside out to me, like it’s like everything was either sleek and shiny, like a product demo, or it was just like the emotions from inside out, except a little smaller and slightly blob here. And and and I think what sort of took me over the edge was the clouds, which seemed like the the most the simplest possible way to telegraph this is where babies are coming from, from a studio that actually gave us the original. This is where babies from the Stalks short film many years ago. And it’s beautiful. But I didn’t love it. I didn’t. Well, that’s not exactly right. It’s beautiful. And I loved looking at it. But that was one part of the movie that that did not feel to me like, oh, Pixar has reinvented how I think about this thing. It said I felt like they gave me a platonically perfect version of the way I sort of already thought.
S1: In my defense, I will say that I agree with you and maybe I was being too broad like the Terri and Jerry’s absolutely love. The rest of it did feel kind of like the ideal of an illumination, like Horton hears the movie. Yeah, yeah.
S2: That’s yeah, that’s Terry and Jerry’s are really great and I think they’re very fun. Inventions and characters. Terry is voiced by Rachel House. She’s an icon. She’s great. Yeah. The Maori actor who listeners might remember as the extremely mean Child Protective Services offer officer in Hunt for the Wylder people.
S1: She is kind of playing the same role here.
S2: Yes, very much so. Yeah. She’s on the chase for them, for the person who has escaped her. And then the the Jerries are played by this fascinating group, like a very deliberately multicultural group of very soothing voice actors like Alice Braga and West Studi.
S1: And that was what I was going to ask was, do you find Richard Ayoade, his voice soothing? Because I feel like he’s the avatar of, like, neuroses.
S2: I think what I found soothing about him was that how his voice was in combination with all the others was just like a little bit uncanny, like you OK, you, Shaun White, Pegg, who or what he was or where he came from. And that was true with all of them. And and I really liked that voice casting and really liked how totally unflappable those characters were, how relentlessly cheerful and upbeat they were about their job to, like, coax these various souls into life even when they were faced with the intractable number. Twenty two who has rejected them forever and then watching their interactions with their kind of co-worker, Terry, were very funny because they simply can’t understand why he’s so driven when their lives are just so chill and cool all the time.
S1: The last scene, the I guess it’s a sort of middle scene where they present Terry with a trophy for having brought twenty two back and they specify they’re like, here’s this trophy that you asked for. They just don’t care about it.
S2: Right. And it suggests like a very fun and slightly daunting idea of the workplace environment and these two different places, which is that clearly the great before doesn’t have any like target based evaluation system like the the the Jerries don’t have to go through an end of year review because if they did the failure of twenty two to make it to Earth, surely would have got them all fired at some point. Whereas Terry seems obsessed with this one soul who has escaped to the end with his own performance to the extent that he has asked for a trophy, something totally unthinkable to all the Jerries. And so I’m so curious as to what is the overarching intelligence over these two places that that runs one place so differently from the other. It’s, you know, what kind of God allows her to separate establishments to be run along? Totally different management consultant line.
S1: Yeah, I think maybe we’re getting too deep into the great before Laura. But I also did wonder when when Joe is first welcomed by one of the Jerries, she’s like, welcome to the You seminar. It’s now called that because of rebranding. And I was like, what are you like? What are you trying to do? Yeah, like who? No one knows it exists. That and also like who? What’s the demographic that you’re like testing this. Like who actually cares about this. What was it before? How many times have they rebranded it like is there a focus group who knows a great set of questions.
S2: Another and I don’t think we can get too deep into. Another question I had was. It turns out it’s really easy to escape off the ramp to the afterlife. How is it possible that Joe is the first person who ever didn’t want to die?
S1: Yeah, especially again when you see that it’s a giant bug zapper. I can’t imagine that he’s I mean, maybe that’s why Terri is so on the warpath about it, because they’ve had to deal with this all the time. Yeah, I will say one of the movie’s funniest scenes is when Terri is on Earth and accidentally nabs Joe’s friend instead of Joe and you see his soda pop out of his body as she kind of throws him into another dimension and she has to put him back. Oh, well, Laurie, we should talk a little bit more, I think, about the other voice performances, because obviously the two big names, Jamie Fox and Tina Fey, I think they’re both doing pretty good. Nothing maybe not as notable maybe as some of the other Pixar big, big Pixar performances. What do you think?
S2: Yeah, I agree. They’re totally serviceable. Tina Fey is is exactly as funny as you think that she is. Jamie Fox is totally fine.
S1: Sorry, sorry. That’s not like I almost is, but because the line she’s as funny as you think she is is I meant as you expect her to be.
S2: Yeah. So as you know she is well I mean, it’s not wrong. If you think Tina Fey is funny, you will think she is for this movie. If you find Tina Fey annoying, you will find her annoying movie. And Jamie Foxx seemed essentially anonymous to me, like it is not that passionate of a performance. And and I agree with you that neither of these two performances are as idiosyncratic as what I think of as the best of Pixar performances. And often that idiosyncrasy comes from. Slightly less familiar voices in in some of their lead characters, and so, yeah, their characters are really stuck out to me in this movie were, though, the ones who surprise him in a little more like Terry and Jerry’s like hearing Quest Love as Joe student who’s now become a drummer like that was a really welcome new voice to hear, like Angela Bassett’s voice as Dorothea, who I didn’t peg right away, mostly because it’s just been so long since I’ve heard her speak anything. And she was great as the the band leader and that group. Who did you love or who did you think didn’t work?
S1: I’m predisposed to like Graham Norton and he has maybe one of the most distinctive voices on Earth. I feel like as soon as you hear him, you’re like, oh, that’s Graham Norton. And he basically is doing his schtick but dialed up to like a hundred in this movie, which I personally found fun.
S2: He’s playing a character named Moon Wind who is a kind of spirit guide, a person who lives on Earth but has found a way to access the great before. And he and a group of other sort of new agey weirdos sail through the sea of lost souls and try to rescue them and bring them back to earth. Which brings me to something that I kind of love about this movie. For all the other things that didn’t quite click for me in Soul, I legitimately love this movies unironic embrace of New Age, woo woo bullshit. And the notion that the the weirdest weirdos on Earth, the guy who is clearly stoned out of his mind, spinning a sign on a New York City street corner or someone who’s super into Reiki or whatever like it. Those people are actually right. And they do have a connection to the spirit world. And if you need to get to the spirit world, they’re the ones who will get you there. I kind of love that.
S1: I guess that’s maybe the earliest sign of like you should just be enjoying life, like you should just appreciate life. And that is ultimately what matters, because that’s arguably what back there kind of new agey ness is all about.
S2: There’s like there in the moment they’re enjoying life from day to day and they’re finding people who have gotten lost somehow, often because they’re so obsessed with one thing. Right. And almost in the way that Joe is obsessed with his one thing and bringing them back to a whole and complete life. I like that a lot. And I and I like that. Even as the movie makes them characters, funny characters and quirky characters, it doesn’t mock their sincere and insane beliefs.
S1: Yeah, it’s not. I guess this is mostly true of every Pixar movie, but it’s not a movie that picks that picks on anyone. Yeah, except for at the beginning, people who have day jobs again like the is. So wait for me. I left a bad taste in my mouth. Anyway, that’s my only huge complaint about this movie. I had fun otherwise I had fun too.
S2: Definitely I, I definitely think of it as like sort of middle tier picks. Yeah. It just to me it seemed to be missing. Maybe it’s because of this point that you identified about how late the the theoretically emotional turn comes in the movie, but it really seemed to be missing the big emotional breakthrough that I feel like the best Pixar movies have, where the you think the movie is about one thing, but then there’s not only a plot twist, but a huge turn in the way a character feels about something in their life. And I think of things like Wally falling in love or joy and inside out, coming to realize the role that sadness has to play in Riley’s life. And Pixar is good at making you cry, not just because they’re expert animators or they hire great voices and write sad scenes. They’re good at making you cry because you connect to those big emotional revelations the characters in their movies have and connect them to your own life. And the slightly arcane argument of or maybe not even arcane but like obvious argument of, well, what’s important in life isn’t the thing that you think you’re passionate about, but just living it and enjoying it as a whole is like not wrong, but not a realization that strikes me particularly hard. And I don’t know that it will strike many viewers particularly hard. And so it’s like that lack of a what I think of as like the emotional twist is what made this middle to lower tier Pixar for me. But what about you?
S1: I think you’re totally right. I, I loved all that. Every Pixar movie has made me cry, including cars, but. For some reason, didn’t hit me ever, like, I really enjoyed watching it, but I never got to the point where I was like, this is making me cry. And I feel like they do try to hit that really emotional moment. As you were saying, when Joe finally goes back to give the earth back to twenty two and finds them as a lost soul and has to confront the fact that he is part of the reason why they’re now a lost soul, because he was putting them down and telling him, telling them that they weren’t good enough basically to be on earth, which is a powerful moment but feels somewhat diminished by the fact that what they’ve built up as the emotional peak has already happened. That being Joe’s performance with the Jazz Quartet and again, how late the turn comes and the idea that there is still there are still a few steps to go through after that occurs. Right. Like, the timing is a little bit off and diminishes the effect as a result.
S2: And you’re right that what what makes the difference, I think, is that the movie is clearly trying for that moment. And you see in the story breakdowns where they were like, oh, this is our big moment. We figured it out. And there are plenty of fantastic animated movies that don’t even try for that that are that that are going for a different vibe or a different kind of lesson or a different kind of spirit that are solely meant to be entertaining or adventuresome or whimsical and succeed 100 percent of what they do. And I’m not I don’t even necessarily think that’s a lesser kind of movie. As much as I love bawling my eyes out at a Pixar movie in the movie, so clearly believes itself to be building to a moment like this and then delivers it to you, it sort of feels like the movie is then watching you be like, how did we get you? Are you crying? And I wasn’t. And I just don’t think many people will be.
S1: Mm hmm. And the conclusion is almost forgettable, like it’s so like it’s so forgettable that I forgot that.
S2: What is the conclusion?
S1: Almost were. It’s just like now I will appreciate life every day, basically. Like that they were like, oh, OK, you know, whereas like, I don’t know, I’m thinking of endings like monsters or monsters, I think is a perfect movie. Oh, yes. And also the ending when it ends on him opening that door again, it’s perfect. I’m literally crying, thinking about it. But this it’s like, OK, I’m going to go live the rest of my life now and probably not really going to retain that much of it, which, again, I have to say is not a knock against the craft. It’s a pretty good movie. It’s just like you will not probably rank this at the top of your list.
S2: And maybe the counterargument, maybe if we had Pete Docter in here right now, the counterargument would just be in a way, that’s kind of what the movie is about, right? Like the movie is always about just embracing the totality of things instead of thinking that any one individual moment or achievement is going to change everything instantly. And in a way, it is. Yet also the movie wants us to believe that this one moment has changed everything for Joe and will transform the way he lives his life for the rest of his for the rest of his days. It’s just that transforms the way he’s going to live his life into a more boring version of what he was doing before, I guess. But also. That’s great. Yeah, I don’t know.
S1: I have one last point, which is the stuff about the Earth card. And like finding your spark does bring into question a weird like what is their idea of predetermination here? Like, are they suggesting that your life is sort of set out for you by saying that you have that dictates at least some of your personality? Right.
S2: There’s this the whole scene where they you know, the the various Jeri’s just like a random pick, a bunch of bouncing baby souls and send them into a room with that makes them obstinate or whatever. Yeah. And so the movie definitely implies that through its cosmology, you arrive on Earth as an infant already with a number of character traits set unable to change, which I think most parents wouldn’t necessarily disagree with. Right. Like we see that in our kids. We see that even as babies that are stubborn or or, you know, open minded or whimsical or pissed off or whatever. But it does, yes. Suggest a certain kind of, again, overarching intelligence behind the whole thing that has some kind of master plan being enacted by the various Terrys and Jerries. And and I’m at a real loss as to what that master plan could be.
S1: Yeah, I also feel like it almost doesn’t really jive with the overall otherwise message of the movie. Right.
S2: Which is that whatever your spark is, it shouldn’t be the only thing.
S1: Right. And that you like your life is up to you to enjoy it basically. Right. Yeah. That was my that was my last big, I guess, nit pick about this movie. Do you have any other things that you wanted to discuss?
S5: No, I’m good. I think we can bring it to a gentle close.
S6: I was like, great, thank you so much. That’s our show. Please subscribe to the Slate spoiler special podcast feed. And if you like the show, please write and review it in the Apple podcast feed or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have suggestions for movies or TV shows that we should spoil, or if you have any other feedback that you’d like to share, please send it to spoilers at Slate Dotcom. Our producer is Morgan Flanary. For Dan Coifs, I’m Karen Hunt. Thank you for listening.