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In this latest animation effort from Pixar studios, Joe Gardner is a music teacher at a public school in New York City who is a piano player constantly dreaming about jazz music. One day, he gets his break when he gets an opportunity to play with Dorothea Williams, a renowned musician. On the way to his debut, he suffers an accident and, through a series of events, finds himself assigned as a mentor to a particularly precocious spirit who can’t seem to find his way to becoming a body on Earth. The film is quite stunning. The animation is superior; I was fascinated with the beauty of the hands playing the piano, and the scenes of New York City were almost lifelike. I think I would have really enjoyed seeing this one on the big screen just for the color and amazing depth. The score is beautiful and represents another success for Trent Reznor, who just has a talent for film scores. And the story carries a profound message about the importance of finding your “spark” and taking the time to appreciate the many joys in life. This is a film that would work well for all ages, and even the youngest ones would love all of the colors and lights. Big thumbs up from me for a visual feast of a film with something important to take away. (2020; 5 stars).

About Gary Burkholder

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