Pixar's latest, brought to us via our shiny new Disney+ subscription. (Yes, I know: Gina Carano.)
After the movie, Mrs. Salad echoed what I was thinking: Gee, this really isn't a kid's movie. The protagonist is an adult, confronting subtle adult issues. The meaning of life, for example. It's madly entertaining, full of visual treats and gags, but I can imagine a 12-year-old puzzled by what's going on underneath all that.
Joe is a middle-school music teacher, confronted every day with indifferent talent-free kids. Out of the blue, he gets a chance to divert his life onto its dream path: an audition playing piano with a famed jazz combo. He aces the audition, is on his way home in oblivious ecstasy, when…
He falls into a manhole and (apparently) dies. Whoa.
But then it's off to the afterlife. Which is much less heavenly than I've been led to expect. It's more like a university, with bureaucrats and well-meaning counselors. Joe's reluctance to follow the newly-expired crowd accidently finds him in the pre-life area, where souls are awaiting download into newborns down on Earth. There, he runs into "22", a soul who's actively resisting the normal flow there. She's OK with never moving into a human. Joe hatches a scheme to hitch onto her credentials in order to reanimate his (as it turns out) mostly dead body.
And there's a lot of merry mixups following that. But also some Lessons Learned. Which (I was kind of surprised by this) are not actually stupidly sentimental.