Disney’s Soul is releasing an animated short on April 30th that will tell the backstory of Tina Fey’s character 22. The short film 22 vs. Earth will premiere exclusively on Disney+ which is only available in the U.S. No other cast members besides Fey have been disclosed thus far, but we do know that Soul’s editor (and a 21-year Pixar veteran) Kevin Nolting directs the film.
Soul was directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers, who co-wrote the story with Mike Jones. Along with Fey, the jazz-ified animation was brought to life by the voices of Jamie Foxx, Graham Norton, Phylicia Rashad, Rachel House, Angela Bassett, Alice Braga, Donnell Rawlings, Questlove, Daveed Diggs, and others.
Soul, which is up for 3 Academy Awards at next week’s Oscars, tells the meaningful journey of jazz pianist and middle school music instructor Joe Gardner (Foxx) after a major accident separates his soul from his body.
His soul travels through various spiritual realms in an effort to return to Earth and avoid passing on to The Great Beyond. He meets many souls along the way, including a very cynical soul named 22, who is unwilling to join Joe and others as they attempt to travel back to Earth.
In 22 vs. Earth, we’ll be taken back long before Joe ever encountered 22, in an effort to locate why the soul has such a chip on her shoulder and avoids going Earthside. Director Nolting explains the motive behind 22’s own film.
He says, “While making Soul, we talked about the why of a new soul not wanting to live on Earth, but it didn’t ultimately belong in that movie. 22 vs. Earth was a chance to explore some of the unanswered questions we had about why 22 was so cynical. As a fairly cynical person myself, it felt like perfect material.”
On top of extending the delight of Soul and its existential subject matter, we can expect to meet some new, fun souls in 22’s story. Nolting adds, “I think the new souls make the short so fun—the contrast of their pure innocence and delight with the cynical expectations of 22. The other new souls are what 22 once was before she took another path—purely innocent, blank slates to be guided by the counselors in their mostly uneventful journey to the earth portal. 22 sees an opening in that and attempts to guide them herself into her way of thinking.”
Soul is available on Disney+ where it awaits its animated counterpart 22 vs. Earth, coming April 30th. Tune in to watch the 93rd annual Academy Awards on April 25th, 8 PM EDT, to see if Soul scores in its 3 nominated categories.