This weekend marks the release of Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon, which means that it also marks the release of the latest pre-feature short film from Disney Animation Studios, Us Again. The musical short, which will only play in front of Raya and the Last Dragon in theaters (until it's added to Disney+ this summer), tells the story of an elderly couple named Art and Dot. Art likes to pass his time in front of the TV, dreaming of the good old days, while Dot wants her husband to get out and enjoy life alongside her.
Things change when Art walks out in the rain and realizes that the water from the sky turns him young again, a feeling that he wants to cling to as long as possible. Us Again is a beautiful film about embracing your outlook on life and enjoying each moment you're given, and director Zach Parrish recently sat down with ComicBook.com to offer a little insight into this new musical journey.
"The seed of the idea came about probably back in 2017 or so. The origins really come from me recognizing like, 'Man, my body is changing.' And starting to feel those pains of aging and thinking about this youth that I felt like I had lost and talking to my mom about it," Parrish explained. "And, I was in my early 30s, she was mid 60s and she was talking about all the stuff that she was going to do when she grew up. And that really made me realize that it was this point of view that I was old by my own definition, she was young by hers. And, then realizing that I have two sets of grandparents that treated old age very differently. One sold their house and bought an RV and traveled to all of the national parks in the United States. And the other just stayed home and closed off like what we tend to view old age in this country as. And so I thought there was a really cool dichotomy there to represent within a relationship and also that emotion of wanting that youth, but realizing that the point is to just be present."
Parrish went on to say that his own relationship with his wife also had a heavy influence on the characters of Art and Dot.
"It's a lot of experiences, it's also my relationship with my wife to some degree, because I think left to my own devices I think I might go the way of Art. But my wife is very much Dot," he said. "She is very much the life is beautiful, living in the present, appreciative of everything. And so she is that person who's constantly reminding me to not wallow in the past or wallow on whatever that our life is amazing. And she is amazing. And, she doesn't tell me that. Well she does sometimes. But you know what I mean. She really gave me that perspective. And so it's my journey, but it's also my parents' journey. And, we met with a lot of people throughout the building and just to hear about their journey, their parents' journey, their grandparents' journey and what aging means to everybody."
While the story is about Art, Dot, and how we all choose to approach age, the music certainly carries a lot of the film's weight as well. Composer Pinar Toprak, who recently scored Captain Marvel, set the entire short to an upbeat and old school sound, one that was influenced by artists like Bruno Mars and films like Up.
"That's literally some of the stuff we talked about, we said, Bruno Mars. We loved Up, and again, because they use one theme in different ways," Parrish told us. "It's that same melody over and over, but sometimes it's happy and sometimes it's sad and sometimes it's action. Pinar did a very similar thing with this where she figured out these themes and then she could go up and down with it. Even the single notes that are playing at the end of the short are the same sort of melody, just very stretched out and singular."
Us Again is playing in theaters with Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon.