Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) is a middle-aged middle school band teacher who is passionate about jazz. All his life he has dreamed of a career as a professional jazz pianist, and he’s had numerous shots at a stage career, but his kindheartedness always thwarted those opportunities – whether it was helping a friend or assisting his mother. But he never gave up on that dream. And then, out of the blue, he is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play with one of the greats. He is determined that this time, nothing is going to stop him.
He gets the gig, and is elated. On cloud nine, Joe shimmies and sashays down the streets of busy New York City with an obvious spring in his step. His lifelong dream has come true: He will be playing alongside jazz legend Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett). A misstep on the street into an open manhole makes that dream (and Joe) short-lived, as Joe finds himself on a moving staircase heading toward The Great Beyond (where souls go after they leave a person’s body), only to escape to The Great Before, a strange place where brand-new souls get their personalities, quirks, and interests before arriving on Earth.
This unique adventure is the basis for Soul, Disney•Pixar’s 23rd animated feature, the fourth directed by Pete Docter, in addition to Monster’s Inc., Up, and Inside Out.