Us Again Producer Shares The Break-Your-Heart Moment That Solidified The Film

Young Art and Dot hugging in Disney's Us Again

Every film begins with an idea for a story. The end result we see can be very close or very far from the project’s inception, depending on various factors including the team putting it together. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Us Again required little changes from its initial idea, and the producer shared the moment that solidified the film.

Us Again tells the story of Art and Dot, a couple living in a vibrant city where dance is the means by which everything is done rather than something people go out and do. Art is struggling with aging and longs for his youthful days, so when a magical rainfall makes him young again, he wants nothing more than to make it last. Here is what producer Brad Simonsen told CinemaBlend of building the story:

The core idea of an elderly couple [where] Art is stuck in his ways and Dot is trying to tell him, ‘No, we can still dance, we can still be in love, we can still go out. We don't need to be afraid of living’ in that world of youth, that core idea never changed. What does change, and that change that you have to be comfortable with and actually continue to keep the team inspired while you're making changes. You have iterations of the movie. So you literally have different ideas, like instead of running to a pier, what if they went to a bar and then everybody young was dancing around them and Art got old in the middle of all these young people dancing?So there's different ideas of how the conceptual story could play out. We did have different manifestations of that as we were working and we shared them with Pinar and with Keone and Mari, and they went on that journey. And then we found, I think this was maybe the fourth or fifth screening, in our features, we do seven or eight screenings. This was like a fourth or fifth screening, and then once we had this actual physical kind of route and the concept of them getting old on the bridge, when the rain passes and then that moment at the end of the pier that breaks your heart, once we had those, it was like, okay, I think this is the structure. And then from that, we started to just elevate and hone in on that structure.

As the rain begins to dissipate, Art chases the clouds to the edge of the city so he can keep his youth. He pulls his wife Dot along with him, but she isn’t able to keep up, and eventually lets go of his hand. He follows the rain to the end of the pier alone, but the rain stops anyway, restoring his age, and he looks back to see his wife looking totally defeated. As Brad Simonsen said, this moment is completely heart-breaking. In his race to the fountain of youth, Art essentially chooses that over more time with his wife, if only for a second.

The collaborators Brad Simonsen mentions above are reference choreographers Keone and Mari and composer Pinar, all of whom’s brilliant work is the heart and soul of Us Again. Movement and music are used in place of speech in this film, with precise meaning and intention behind every single beat. Us Again is truly a work of art, and it is now streaming on Disney+.

Samantha LaBat

Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.