In Pixar’s latest masterpiece, Joe (voice by Jamie Foxx), a talented jazz pianist ground down by the world to teaching middle-school school band, gets his shot at the big time with a famed jazz combo, and is on his way home to get his suit when he falls into a manhole.
He wakes up in a kind of staging area for the Great Beyond, but with his life finally working out, he is not at all ready to go willingly into the light. In his quest get his soul turned around, he becomes allied with “22,”an irascible yet knowledgeable infant soul (Tina Fey) in a place called the Great Before, where new souls acquire their talents, tics and traits.
In their haste to get to Earth, 22 finds herself in Joe’s body while Joe inhabits a random therapy cat to create a hilarious kind of Freaky Friday vibe. The rest you get to discover for yourself. While it starts out kind of cartoony, co-directors Pete Docter and Kemp Powers push the existential envelope past Inside Out territory to create a complex yet clearly understandable and deeply sweet metaphysical mindblower, delving into what makes you what you are. And perhaps more importantly, what you are not but might be. It doesn’t merely stay with you; it may move you to change.
Hell, the music alone — by Bob Dylan, Herbie Hancock, Erykah Badu, Charlie Mingus and Jon Batiste — is worth the ticket price. My only beef is there could have been more of it. I may watch it again. (100 min)
Now available to stream on Disney Plus in Japan.