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All Easter Eggs & Secret Pixar References Explained


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Summary

  • The Pizza Planet Truck appears in Soul, continuing Pixar’s tradition of including it as an Easter egg in their movies.
  • The number A113, a reference to a classroom at CalArts, can be found in Soul in the Hall of Everything.
  • Other Easter eggs in Soul include the Luxo Jr. lamp, John Ratzenberger’s cameo, and references to other Pixar films like Luca.

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Pixar’s Soul follows the studio’s tradition of Easter eggs and in-jokes (Pixar even included a Soul reference in Onward). The folks at the heralded animation studio have managed to sneak a variety of coded references and familiar objects into their vastly successful run of over 20 feature films, and sharp-eyed fans know to look out for an “A113” or a “Pizza Planet Truck” in the background when seeing each new release for the first time. The 2020 animated fantasy film, directed by Pixar CCO Pete Docter, delivers on the customary gag.

Soul focuses on Joe Gardner, a middle-aged jazz musician who teaches middle-school band to pay the bills. When he finally gets his big break, Joe takes an unexpected detour after taking a tumble down an uncovered sewer hole. Joe meets an unlikely companion in the “great before” — 22, a soul struggling to discover their “spark,” a prerequisite for starting life on Earth. Joe becomes her mentor, and they end up teaching each other about the meaning of life. Through the existential journey of his character in Soul, Joe discovers his purpose while helping this newfound friend to find theirs. Along the way, the audience can spot numerous Easter eggs hidden in the background.

Pizza Planet Truck

Spotted in the Hall of Everything

The Pizza Planet Truck in Soul might be the most famous and instantly recognizable of the Pixar Easter Eggs. First appearing in the studio’s groundbreaking feature debut, Toy Story (1995), the truck took Woody and Buzz on a wild ride to Pizza Planet, where they hoped to reunite with Andy. Since then, it’s become customary to sneak some form of the truck into each subsequent release, whether upfront and plot-relevant, as in Toy Story 2, or more subtly hidden, like in A Bug’s Life (sitting beside the mobile home), Up (driving around the city as Carl takes flight), or Wall-E (scanned by Eve as she searches Earth for the plant).

In Soul, the Pizza Planet Truck exists in the Hall of Everything, a place where new souls are taken containing replicas of the total of items on Earth. These items are meant to inspire them to find their spark. The Pizza Planet Truck is visible to the left of the screen just as Joe and 22 enter and behold the massive collection.

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A113

Spotted in the Hall of Everything

Soul Easter Egg A113

The repeated appearance of “A113” in Pixar movies finds its genesis in a classroom number at CalArts, the alma mater for many of Pixar’s founders and Brain Trustees, including Docter. John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Tim Burton, and others were veterans of the classroom, which hosted graphic design and character animation classes. Whether it’s Mater’s license plate in Cars, a diver’s camera model in Finding Nemo, or a police code in Onward, the famous classroom number finds its way into every Pixar film.

Alongside the Pizza Planet Truck, A113 makes its Soul cameo in the Hall of Everything, featured discreetly on a street sign. Unfortunately, it may prove difficult to spot for those streaming the film on a phone or laptop, as it’s quite small in the frame. The Disney+ release platform was likely never meant to sustain such intricate references as Pixar has become known for.

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Pixar Ball

Spotted in 22’s secret box

Soul Easter Egg Luxo Jr Ball

Before they changed the industry with their feature-length computer animation, Pixar was blowing minds with their masterful storytelling in short form. Luxo, Jr. was the studio’s first short under the Pixar name, debuting in 1986. In the original film, a little lamp sets his sights on a yellow, blue, and red ball with a star on it. The same ball appears again in various Pixar movies. In Soul, this ball can be found as a table base in 22’s secret box-hoard residence, which is reminiscent of Wall-E’s eclectic home.

Luxo Jr. Lamp

Spotted in the Hall of Everything

Soul Easter Egg Luxo Jr

The two-minute short film Luxo Jr. revolutionized the industry, showing the remarkable capabilities of computer animation. It should be no surprise then that it too often appears in Pixar productions — as well as the Pixar logo. In Soul, the Luxo, Jr. lamp is visible in the Hall of Everything, as several young souls play around it while one in the foreground gets his spark from photography.

John Ratzenberger’s Cameo

Spotted in the subway station

Following the release of Soul, director Pete Docter revealed that John Ratzenberger made a cameo in the film but declined to point out when and where. Pixar movies have a long-standing tradition of including cameos by Ratzenberger, who voices Hamm in Toy Story, The Abominable Snowman in Monsters, Inc., and more. Whereas most of the actor’s appearances entail speaking roles, his cameo in Soul did not.

About one hour and eight minutes into the movie, 22 (in Joe’s body) runs through the subway while Joe (in a cat’s body) chases her. 22 almost runs into a man dressed in a white button-up shirt and red tie after she bursts through a turnstile. This man is a computer-animated version of Ratzenberger.

Statue

Spotted in Dr. Borgensson’s Hall of You

Joe and 22 in Dr. Borgensson’s Hall of You in Pixar's Soul.

When Joe first meets 22 in Pixar’s Soul, they walk through Dr. Borgensson’s Hall of You — Dr. Borgensson is the soul that Joe is impersonating at the start of the film. While looking at all the important moments in his life, a statue of a man and a child can be seen. This statue is reminiscent of the Partners statue, which depicts Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse’s hand and can be found in many Disney parks.

RETLAW

Spotted on New York street

A sewer hole in Pixar's Soul.

At the beginning of Soul, Dorothea Williams hires Joe to play piano in her band, and he’s so excited that he doesn’t see the sewer hole until it’s too late. Joe falls through, and his soul separates from his body. However, on the right side of the street, next to the sewer hole, is a van with the logo “RETLAW” on the back. RETLAW is assumingly a company, but the more interesting part is that it is Walter spelled backward. Walter is Walt Disney’s real name, so it’s undoubtedly a nod to him.

Portorosso

Spotted on New York street

Joe and 22 on the street in Pixar's Soul.

Numerous Pixar movies contain Easter eggs that allude to the animation studio’s next project, and Luca directly followed Soul in 2021. Soul‘s nod to Luca was a poster on a building that Joe (in a cat’s body) and 22 (in Joe’s body) walked by in New York City. The poster read “Portorosso,” a fictional town in Italy and the primary setting of Luca.

Soul and Luca are available to stream on Disney+.

“23-19”

Spotted on the subway

Soul Easter Egg 2319

The phrase “23-19” is a running gag in 2001’s Monsters, Inc. to describe a hazardous material (read: sock) breach. In Soul, the number “2319” makes an appearance on the subway that Joe and 22 take as they listen to the busker singing his heart out. He inspires 22 to bestow upon him the honor of her half-eaten bagel.

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Other Easter Eggs

P742, Up cameo, name tags, rats, and more

Soul Easter Egg Others

There are several other minor or indirect references in Soul. The hospital room in which Joe hides to avoid an approaching doctor is labeled “P742,” which, when read aloud, sounds reminiscent of the eminently memorable phrase “P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney” that the eminently forgetful Dory repeated throughout Finding Nemo. When Joe asks 22 why she sounds the way she does in the You Seminar, she responds by demonstrating an array of vocal choices, one of which sounds gruff, male, and elderly — possibly a reference to the lovable grump in Up, Carl Fredricksen, voiced by acting stalwart Ed Asner.

Another obscure Pixar reference in Soul is found on one of 22’s name tags. A wall in 22’s box home bears the name tags of the innumerable mentors she’s had, each of distinguished inspirational quality. One of these tags reads “Joe Ranft.” Ranft was an animation screenwriter and fellow CalArts alum to his Pixar contemporaries. He died tragically in a car accident at the age of 45, in the middle of production on Cars, which he co-directed. Naturally, his legacy as an inspiration was more than enough to earn him the title of former mentor of 22 in the Pixar movie.

The references become more tenuous hereafter.Ratatouille fans will clamor for mention of the rat who Joe, in cat form, encounters while securing food for his 22-inhabited body. But this is more likely a reference to the New York icon Pizza Rat than the little chef from Brad Bird’s 2007 film. There appears to be a poster reading “Brang” on a storefront, referring to the startup that draws Riley’s dad to San Francisco in 2015’s Inside Out. But still, there’s so much signage around Souls New York City that audiences may still discover obscure Easter eggs for years to come.

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