It has been five years since Walt Disney Animation Studios has released an animated short. “Paperman,” “Feast,” and “Inner Workings” are just a few of the studio’s most memorable and award-winning titles. And now they are bringing them back with a rhythmic new short called “Us Again.” And the only way you can see it is to watch “Raya and the Last Dragon” in theaters. Don’t worry Disney+ subscribers, you’ll be able to see it too, eventually. More on that a later.
Directed by Zach Parrish, an eleven year veteran at Disney animation, “Us Again” is described as a vibrant and original that brings together dance, music, emotional storytelling, and inspired animation together. Set in a vibrant city pulsating with rhythm and movement, an elderly man and his young-at-heart wife rekindle their youthful passion for life and each other on one magical night. The years fade away as the joy of dancing propels them across the exciting cityscape of their youth and revives fond memories and ambitions. “Us Again” is told entirely without dialogue and set to an original funk and soul musical score reminiscent of the mid-60s.
Parrish served as head of animation on “Big Hero 6” and director of the Short Circuit film, “Puddles,” in addition to his numerous animation credits on features for the Studio. He colloborated with award-winning choreographers/dancers Keoneand Mari (featured performers on “World of Dance,” and renowned for their collaborations with such top talents as Justin Bieber and Billie Eilish), and acclaimed composer Pinar Toprak(“Captain Marvel”) on this experimental musical fantasy that ultizies their unique talents. The film is produced by Brad Simonsen (associate producer on “Big Hero 6,” “Zootopia,” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet”), and executive produced by Jennifer Lee, the chief creative officer for Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS).
“Working with Keone and Mari was the key to making this film work,” recalls Parrish. “From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted this film to be music-driven. And I felt that dance is a universal language that can translate into any culture. I loved that their dance style felt like it was made for animation and that there was this genuine, honest and organic connection between them because they were actually a married couple in real life. The story itself was inspired by my own grandparents, who faced getting older in different ways, along with my own physical limitations in playing sports resulting from getting older and injuries. I started thinking about how someone might look at the world differently as things change and they grow older.”
WDAS President Clark Spencer said, “We’re thrilled to be premiering our first new theatrical short in five years, ‘Us Again,’ exclusively on the big screen alongside our incredible new feature, ‘Raya and the Last Dragon.’ Zach has tapped into elements from his personal life and collaborated with the very best in the world of dance and music to create this very special film. We are so proud of what they have accomplished and look forward to sharing it with movie theater goers in March and then in June on Disney Plus.”
But there is a little caveat for those who want to watch “Us Again” as soon as possible. While it will be attached to all showings of “Raya and the Last Dragon,” it will not be available on Disney+ until June. That is a bit unfortunate, considering some theaters are currently closed due to the pandemic. That being said, those Disney+ subscribers and who are still reluctant to be in a theater will get to see it on Disney+. They will just have to wait a while for that to happen.
“Us Again” is attached to all theatrical showings of “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which debuts on March 5, 2021.