A “Short” Conversation with ’22 Vs. Earth’ Director Kevin Nolting and a Mini-Review

They may have won the Oscar this year, but Pixar has not lost its “Soul.” That’s right! As we reported recently, this Friday, Pixar is debuting its latest short, 22 Vs. Earth on Disney+. The film is a prequel to last year’s Oscar winner for Best Animated Film, and recipient of the highly coveted “Mike Manalo’s Favorite Movie of the Year Award,” Soul. It reunites us with the hilarious Tina Fey as 22, as well as the unborn souls and the Jerrys, prior to 22 meeting Joe Gardner. And to commemorate the return to The Great Before, The Nerds of Color was given the opportunity to participate in a short press event with other members of the press, to speak to the short film’s director, Kevin Nolting.

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The World of Pixar’s ‘Soul’ Continues with New Short Film: ’22 Vs. Earth’

Pixar’s Soul was probably my favorite film of 2020. Gorgeous as it was deep, it really served as a reminder of why Pixar is still the best in the Animation game at this point in time. And while I think it is the embodiment of the perfect one-and-done film (please don’t ever make a feature-length sequel to this perfect movie!) it’s nice to dip our toe into this world and revisit the characters from time to time in a limited capacity. And thankfully, Pixar is planning to do just that, with the upcoming release of their new short film, 22 Vs. Earth!

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No More Mrs. Frozone: Black Women Characters in Pixar’s ‘Soul’

Black adult women aren’t often depicted in animation. Most of the Black female characters are kids or teens or little-seen moms. Some notable central characters include: Storm. Trudy Proud and Big Mama. Donna Tubbs. Uhm, the Muses? There aren’t very many. It’s the Mrs. Frozone problem, off-screen and never developed. (Pixar could stand to improve upon that problem in particular.)

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Disney’s Latest Film Shows the ‘Soul’ of New York

For an animated slice-of-Black-New-York-life, Disney’s new Pixar film Soul joins Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse in showing new parts of New York not typically glamorized by Hollywood.  Despite being one of the most famous cities in the world, there are dozens of neighborhoods and experiences viewers never see on the silver screen. New York City isn’t just the glitz and glamor of midtown, the brunch bunch of Brooklyn, or the gentrified hives in Harlem. 

The new movie takes us to an ordinary Queens middle school, where Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) is a down-on-his-luck band teacher. On his way to a gig in the Village that could finally make his music career, he falls down a manhole and dies. After he escapes the Great Beyond, he hides out in the Great Before, where pre-souls find their “spark” before being sent to Earth to be born. His mission? Help the dispassionate, uninterested-in-humanity pre-soul Number 22 find her spark, then use it to get back to Earth in time for his gig. 

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NOC Review: ‘Soul’ is Pixar’s Jazzy Spark of Imagination, Inspiration, and Beauty

How does one define living or existence? Where do these meaningful drives that we get, or the desires we have – those moments of inspiration and wonder where we try to reach out and define the purposes we make for ourselves in our own lives — where do they all come from, and why do we have them? We can’t possibly quantify such things, or even explain what and why they are, but we still know inside they’re there; an indelible and innate part of us that, if nothing else, creates the full mosaic we know to be the individual human experience. For any film or studio to depict visually, conceptually what these ideas and notions that possess us are, let alone what they mean, would be seemingly impossible.

Then there’s Pixar, who comes along and says, “Hold my beer!” Thus, we now have Soul.

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‘Soul’ Producers Address the Blue Elephant in the Room

Pixar’s Soul takes a musical journey into the meaning of life — literally. In the film, Joe Gardner seems to be the prototype for “if you can’t do, teach.” But he very much wants to do. However, just when he’s about to get his first jazz gig, he dies. *insert Price is Right trombone.*

The first 35 minutes of the jazzy New York-set movie that I saw were great. Joe (Jamie Foxx), upon his death, is sent to the Great Before. There he meets apathetic New Soul 22 (Tina Fey), who finds it in her own best interest to help Joe return to his life on Earth. Sensing the direction of the rest of the movie, I imagine it will be as heartfelt as every other Pixar classic. It’s new Christmas Day home release feels like a really good choice to celebrate life, the purpose of art in our lives, and exploring how we connect with ourselves and others. 

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Everything We Learned from the D23 Expo Disney Studios Presentation

The second day of D23 Expo kicked off with the Disney Studios presentation with new films coming from the studios of Disney, Walt Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Alan Horn, chief creative officer and co-chairman of Walt Disney Studios hosted the showcase and brought on Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige, Disney live action’s Sean Bailey, Pixar’s Pete Docter, and Disney Animation’s Jennifer Lee.

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