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The Scoop on Disney’s “Us Again” on Disney Plus

Disney’s first theatrical animation short in five years was released on Disney+ after premiering as a short before Raya and the Last Dragon.

I’ve got the scoop on what you want to know about this amazing movie. Read below for more on the making and inspiration of the short film and more.

“Us Again,” Walt Disney Animation Studios, © 2021 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The Story of Us Again

Us Again follows the story of an elderly couple, Art and Dot, who live in New York City. After refusing to enjoy the day with his wife, Art regrets his decision. After looking at a photo of them as a young couple, Art transforms into a young man after standing on his fire escape in the rain.

Soon the couple finds each other in the rainy city and begins to dance in their youth. Eventually, the rain runs out and Art drags Dot around the city trying to protect their youth.

After acknowledging their lasting love for each other, Art and Dot begin to dance with each other. The short film explores the love of dance and family told through music with no dialogue. 

“From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted this film to be music-driven.  I felt that dance is a universal language that can translate into any culture.”

Zach Parrish

Acclaimed composer, Pinar Toprak, created the film’s original funk and soul soundtrack. The 60s inspired music was accompanied by emotional dancing choreographed by award-winning choreographers Keone and Mari Madrid. Brad Simonsen joined the team as produce and Jennifer Lee, the chief creative producer of Walt Disney Animation Studios, was the executive producer. 

The Inspiration 

“Us Again,” Walt Disney Animation Studios, © 2021 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The director, Zach Parrish, drew his inspiration from mostly his mother and his grandparents. 

His mother has always been a supporter of Zach’s dream of going into the arts and theater. Parrish became emotional when talking about the advice he got from his mother. 

“When I said I wanted to go to art school and I wanted to be an animator, there was never a doubt for her,” Parrish said.

Parrish drew inspiration for the film after longing for his youth back and after having conversations with his mother and wife about growing up. 

“I realized that if I spent all of my time focused on the past, then I was going to miss the beauty in the present.”

Zach Parrish

This sentiment became the thematic premise of the short film and based the storyline on a dichotomy he found between his grandparents. Parrish actually named the main characters after his own grandparents, Art and Dot, who loved travel and adventure. 

Parrish also wanted to include a happy theme of rain which is often used to express sadness in Disney films. 

With no dialogue, Us Again uses dance as a mechanism to exaggerate the world as a youthful spirit. This is used as a conflict with Art, a curmudgeon in a youthful world. 

“I’ve always wanted to tell a story through dance,” Parrish explained. “It was just like, I don’t really think we need to say anything, just let their bodies say what they need to say.” 

Meet the Choreographers

Keone and Mari were brought on after Parrish would refer to their work for inspiration. The Madrids are a married couple who appeared on World of Dance and choreograph routines for Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, and other big-name performers. 

Keone and Mari’s routines and choreography tell beautiful stories and have an emotional connection. They were excited to bring their style of dance to the animated screen and to incorporate their new, young style into the 60s soul, funk theme of the movie. 

“Us Again,” Walt Disney Animation Studios, © 2021 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The choreographers slipped in dance pieces that paid homage to other classic dance scenes. One of these references is to “Singin’ in the Rain” when Gene Kelly’s character swings on the light pole. 

As a married couple, the Madrid’s had a special connection to choreographing for married main characters. Keone admitted that it had an impact on them when working. 

“Like everyone else such a rewarding experience, a dream all of the things that you know, not just doing this piece but also like feeling like were representing dance,” Madrid said. “Obviously, dance, having the opportunity to have a really strong marriage in this piece was huge.”

The Soul and Funk Composer

After figuring out the dancing, the team needed a composer and they turned to Pinar Toprak. Toprak is a talented composer for multiple superhero sagas, most notably “Captain Marvel.”

Toprak said she the soul and funk theme of the movie drew her in, but also said she knew that the film was going to be something special. 

The team collaborated together bouncing ideas off of each other. Everytime Parrish had an idea the Madrids and Toprak would create music and dance that flowed together. Toprak studied Keone and Mari’s dance movements to get a better idea of the sound that should be used. 

“It really was like we were all kind of dancing together throughout the whole process.”

Pinar Toprak

The Incredible Animation 

“Us Again,” Walt Disney Animation Studios, © 2021 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

A big part of Disney movies is the stunning animation that continues to become more and more lifelike. The animation team animated the dance movements that Parrish and the Madrids created for Art and Dot. 

Animators also had to work on the transitioning Art and Dot from young to old. They had to change their height, wrinkles, sun spots and movemements while all in wet clothes. 

A crowd animation team created 1400 unique individuals to dance in the background of the film.

“We really wanted to feel like the world was young, grooving, and thriving.” 

Brad Simonsen

Beyond the people making the world feel young, Parrish also wanted neon and colored light to express the then and now feel of the team. 

The effects team then covered the movie in rain. From pouring rain to drips there is a lot of rain that the effects team worked on to make it look real. 

Watch Us Again on Disney+

Make sure to look for all the tiny references that Parrish and the animators included into the short film. A reference to Fantasia is on the movie theater and other small references are in Art and Dot’s home.

Us Again will be streaming exclusively on Disney+. Watch it along with Disney’s other incredible short films and the film upon which Us Again aired, Raya and the Last Dragon.

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