One of the things that makes Pixar great is that they don't talk down to the kids in the audience. Something that a lot of animated movies seem to think is that kids are just small, dumb adults, but they have a very unique way of looking at the world. When you're talking about a movie like Soul, where we are covering the very concept of life and death, the idea of your soul and what makes you you, one has to wonder if the kids will understand it. We got the chance to speak to Soul story supervisor Kristen Lester, and story artists Michael Yates and Aphton Corbin, and they talked about some of the feedback they got when they showed a cut of the movie to kids.
"One of the things that we did kind of following a little bit of what Pete had done before on Inside Out was that we had a kid's screening," she explained. "We also had some concerns that we were like, "Is this subject matter too scary for kids? Will they comprehend it? Will they understand it?" It seems like a very adult subject. And so we had a bunch of folks bring their kids into Pixar. And we just screened the movie for kids, and we discovered that we were completely wrong. Kids completely understood the movie. They understood so many of the concepts that we were concerned that they wouldn't understand. A good example is the concept of the zone. It was amazing to see three-year-olds, four-year-olds, when we said, 'do you know what the zone is? And have you experienced it?'
"Three-year-olds and four-year-olds saying, "Yeah, I go to the zone when I do karate. Sometimes I'm in the zone when I'm drawing,'" she continued. "We did the same on Inside Out. Why did we forget? Of course, kids can explain concepts to us that we didn't think that they understood. And so it was really cool to see that kids understand and connect to the subject sometimes even more deeply than we did, which was cool. Also, I want to go to the zone when I'm doing karate."
The unique Pixar way of making these sorts of ideas approachable for all audiences is how you make a good family movie and not just a good kids movie. I've seen the first half of Soul, and if the second half is just as good as the first? We're in for a treat. Watch the full interview below and please ignore how terrible I look I didn't know we'd be recording video that day:
A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.
Soul, directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Kemp Powers, stars Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Daveed Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, and John Ratzenberger. It will be released on Disney+ on December 25th.