Soul is the best movie of the pandemic

With all due respect to Palm Springs, Pixar’s Soul is the best movie to come out during the pandemic. 

I’m still not quite sure how a media Death Star like Disney ended up producing one of the most internal, challenging movies I’ve ever seen and that dwells on subject matter that’s often way too difficult to confront (What is our purpose in life? How do you live a meaningful life? Why are the New York Knicks the way they are?). But I’m glad that they did, even if it reduced me to an existential puddle who also weeped openly about a character who is a talking cat. 

Did the joke about the lost soul of a day trader hit entirely too close to home? You’re gosh darn right it did. And did I ball my eyes out during the final montage of the main character’s life? Hoo boy. 

One of the things that has stuck with me most about Soul, however, is the idea of finding your spark. It feels so especially salient now, nearly a year into a pandemic that (at least for me) has caused me to go through entire life cycles of hobbies in search of my own (my sourdough starter ended shortly after the Trump presidency; I never did finish that 1,000-piece puzzle; I’ve been producing fewer and fewer listicles for this eminent newsletter, etc. etc.). And what about all of us who derive energy and inspiration from the very people we’re not able to see right now? 

As awed as I was by Soul’s discussion of capital-D Difficult concepts about life, death, and the meaning we find in between, I think I got just as much out of its exploration of Joe’s love of jazz and what it means to pursue your ambition by immersing yourself fully in what brings you joy (and the ways in which that dedication can hamper other parts of your life). And on top of that, it was worth it just for the reminder to take a breath and look around you—which, in Soul, was a New York City that looked more real than any movie set in NYC that I’ve seen since Spider-verse

So for me, Soul is on the Mount Rushmore of pandemic movies, right up there with Palm Springs and whatever else you happened to have streamed this year (TenetChicago 7Mank? Sure, go ahead, so long as it’s not The Midnight Sky). One month of Disney+ is worth it to watch Soul and then binge as many of the Mighty Ducks movies as you have the appetite for. 

The Worst Wedding Toasts of 2021

Now that a glut of wedding celebrations have been pushed back to next year, we’re facing an unprecedented wedding season in 2021. Here’s the worst wedding speech lines we can expect in the year to come:

“At first, I thought we should take a global pandemic as a sign that the universe didn’t want these two to get married. In fact, I was grateful that Kelly would be forced to spend twenty months together with Ted before making the worst decision of her life. But I’m glad they soldiered through.” 

“May you two deal with adversity far better than the former presidential administration.” 

“And if you ever lay a finger on my daughter, I’ll come to your house and cough in your throat young man.” 

“If these two can survive quarantining together in a New York City walkup for 9 months, then what can’t they accomplish?” 

“Jen is so much prettier than your previous wife, who tragically passed away from massive respiratory failure last April. Wow, pretty fast on the uptake there, Mark.”

“At first, as Heather’s roommate, I was a little worried when she started bringing Jeff around. I mean, had this guy even been tested? Was he hanging out with other people? But then Jeff tested negative for COVID-19 (still waiting for that syphilis test to come back though, haha), and he turned out to be the most loving, thoughtful man not named Anthony Fauci. But Heather, don’t think that just because you’re married now that our nights of socially distanced rosé are over!”

“Margaret is so much prettier than your previous wife, Janis, who divorced you after quarantining 9 months together in a New York City walkup. Wow, pretty fast on the uptake, there, Steve.”

“I’m glad that you two can put an end to all that social distancing tonight, if you know what I mean. No but seriously this couple can get freakier than the toilet paper line at Costco during the first day of a stay-at-home order.”

“Folks, did you see that ring that Brett bought? I know that saving three months worth of salary is a little outdated, but man those $600 relief checks sure go a long way.”

“My sister Rachel is an absolute saint. While some of us continued partying in New Orleans weeks after the virus hit, there was good old Rach, calmly explaining to me that I needed to wear a mask if I wanted Aunt Carol to make it to the wedding tonight. Everybody, give it up for Aunt Carol, who survived 18 months in isolation in her Seattle nursing home to be here!”

“Dave, you are the Joe Exotic to my Travis Maldonado.”

“We’re so delighted those of you with antibodies were able to make it to our celebration. Thank you for getting tested in advance of our big day. We never thought we’d enjoy having a wedding with four guests so much!”

“I knew John had found the love of his life when he named his sourdough starter after Katie. Let’s raise a glass that their love continues to rise forever.”

“By the time Michael agreed to meet in person and take his mask off after all of our Sip n’ Zoom Thursdays, I didn’t even CARE what he looked like anymore. I was just ready to be touched again.”

“Sam, you are the missing jigsaw piece in my life, unlike the final piece to our Monet water lilies puzzle we started in March and couldn’t finish because the dog you fostered ate it.”

“Just look at the way these two stare at each other: like Nicolas Maduro stares at hydroxychloroquine tablets.”

“I hope these two have an amazing time in their honeymoon to the only nations that are letting Americans in right now: Albania, Belarus, and Belize!”

“Joshua, love is like the WHO: it’s a powerful bond that can only be broken when one party unilaterally prioritizes its own autonomy over the common good.”

“Aren’t we grateful that the airline industry survived this so we could all be here in Hawaii together to celebrate Chad and Melissa’s big day?”

“Kiki, don’t forget to wash all of those gifts in boiling water, let them rest in your garage for 24 hours, and sanitize them with Clorox wipes and bleach. You can never be too careful these days!”

“When Lisa asked me to write this speech, I googled the definition of ‘pandemic.’ It means ‘an outbreak of a pandemic disease.’ And that’s what Lisa and Jeff’s love is like.”

“In case you were wondering—yes it’s DEFINITELY a quarantine pregnancy.”

Movie Pitches for a Post-Pandemic World

60*: In the 2020 pandemic- and labor-unrest-shortened MLB season, the White Sox went 60–0 en route to their first World Series victory since 2005. But should their incredible season have an asterisk next to it? From producer Barack Obama and the guys who brought you Fever Pitch comes the sports movie from an era when we worried we’d never have sports again.

Jumanji 5: There’s no alternate world, but they play a board game, which is pretty fun.

The Newest Wes Anderson Movie [working title: The Sunnyside ICU]: What, you think that just because there’s a global pandemic, Wes Anderson can’t make another movie? You don’t think he can just walk into someone’s house, paint everything in pastels and make things symmetrical and well-lit? Fuck you. (Starring Jason Schwartzman.)

I Know What You Did Last Summer 2: A psycho murderer stalks a group of teens who spent the summer of 2020 ACTING LIKE EVERYTHING WAS NORMAL, NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING, HAVING PARTIES INDOORS, SPREADING THEIR IDIOT GERMS EVERYWHERE.

You Stupid Motherfuckers: This is just three and a half hours of Dr. Anthony Fauci personally and repeatedly insulting the American people (directed by Scorsese, obviously).

Shooting Blanks: A heartwarming rom com about LeBron James, a generational talent on the court who has his last shot at winning one final NBA championship. But you’ll never guess who his team signs—his nightmare ex! Premiering on the Hallmark Channel this August.

Quaranteam: OK, hear me out—it’s six conventionally attractive white people who live in a massive apartment in the Village, and buddy let me tell you, they get into some serious HIJINKS during their time in quarantine (they fuck).

Imagi-nation: A gutsy documentary following that time The Celebs sang at us for some reason, culminating in an emotional debut at the Toronto Film Festival.

A Quiet Place Part 3: It’s quiet because we’re all dead!

Untitled Harry Potter Prequel: In which J.K. Rowling reveals that the founders of Hogwarts were all anti-vaxxers. (Also that Helga Hufflepuff had an IUD.)

La La La La Land: The President spends every minute of every day singing incoherently to avoid learning about all of the people dying. The choreo is sub-par because only white straights are allowed to help on the film.

There Used To be 50: A touching tribute to the former state of Florida, written and directed by Pitbull. 17 Oscars, a clean sweep.