Soul, the latest exercise in midlife angst masquerading as a children’s flick from Pixar, has a back-from-the-afterlife plot that’s indebted to all sorts of predecessors, from Heaven Can Wait to Defending Your Life to Meet Joe Black. But the holiday timing of its release is particularly appropriate, because fundamentally Soul is a 21st-century answer to It’s a Wonderful Life, with the same basic idea — a disappointed middle-aged man confronting mortality and learning to appreciate the life he’s lived — expressed in a narrative that says a lot about how far our religious culture has traveled between Capra and the …
This article appears as “It’s a Less Wonderful Afterlife” in the January 25, 2021, print edition of National Review.
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