It’s true! The meaning of life is addressed in the upcoming short, 22 VS. EARTH but you’ll have to tune this Friday when it debuts on Disney+ to see how Disney and Pixar got around to answering the ultimate age old question. But beyond little trivial things like that, the new short also brings us back to the world of 22 (voiced again by Tina Fey) and offers a glimpse of her early-formed disdain for Earth long before she ever met Joe Gardner in last year’s SOUL.

MouseInfo had the chance to hear from director Kevin Nolting who explained why revisiting the character of 22 was such a special treat for him personally, “as a fairly cynical person myself, it felt like perfect material.” A judgmental personality has turned out to be a recipe for success as he has worked at the house of lamp for well over 21 years as a film editor.

22vsearth-online-use-ss883_9a_cs_d12d4d23In fact, Nolting was actually still working on editing for SOUL approximately 6 months ahead of the feature film’s release when the new short project passed his way with a Director title attached. With the story still in its infant, “new soul,” state the short was initially developed as an accompanying feature for the film’s home release. Pressed on the decision to focus on 22 before she met Joe vs. after, he said it was an easy decision that felt far more interesting to explore those early years and left it to the audience’s imagination on where she ends up on Earth.

During our conference call, Nolting clearly felt proud of the project and beamed about the support he had from the studio and his colleagues to develop the new short. He shared that he particularly felt a special connection working with editors in what was a distinct role reversal. Instead of giving critiques, he was now the one collecting them. He humored, “to be the one presenting the material to be judged [by editors and] the crew was a great life lesson for me.”

Of course, we had to ask about Easter eggs and he shared that he was happy to sneak two visual references to the film APOCALYPSE NOW (a reference that will make a lot more sense once you see the short) into the Hall of Everything scene. There were plans for a more direct homage to the 1979 psychological war film with a helicopter scene but the timing and complexity of creating the ethereal qualities of the items in the astral plane would leave that chopper grounded. Still with two visual and one audio reference, the film is well represented as an Easter egg.

22 VS. EARTH is absolutely adorable following our favorite disgruntled soul enlisting a gang of five other new souls in her attempt at rebellion in The Great Before. However, as her cohorts’ activities lead to unexpected results, 22’s subversive plot actually leads to hilarity and possibly a revelation about the meaning of life.

See it for Yourself

22 VS. EARTH debuts on Disney+ on April 30, 2021.