After staring at my computer screen for hours, watching lectures and doing homework, you may think the last thing I would want to do is stare at it for any longer. However, Disney’s animated shorts are a breath of fresh air after a tedious workday. Every short seems to bring to life a process, function or emotion of everyday life, often those that I would otherwise struggle to conceptualize. These next few shorts touch on internal struggle, teenage angst and friendship in clever ways, making for an emotional journey full of relatable animated creatures.
As a man goes about his everyday life — waking up, showering, commuting to his office job — we see the ongoing battle taking place inside of his body. The man’s practical, no-nonsense brain is at war with his sentimental heart that yearns for adventure. While his heart physically pulls him away from his office job and toward the more fun aspects of everyday life, his brain stops him in his tracks, reminding him of all the risks that come with the decision to pursue his passions.
What makes “Inner Workings” so amusing is the way the main character’s internal organs are personified into their own individual tiny creatures, playing a role in every decision the man makes throughout the day. When the brain overpowers the heart, finally tugging hard enough to get the man into work, the lungs comfort the sad heart, hugging the tiny creature from both sides. Aside from being extremely cute and aesthetically pleasing, this visualization of organs at war is relatable to anyone who has ever contemplated taking a risk. We’re all familiar with internal struggle, but not many of us have ever been able to visualize it so perfectly.
“Inner Workings” is an accurate and literal visual representation of the saying “follow your heart.” The short tells us more about our own thoughts and decision-making than we are able to witness with our own eyes. And when it’s the heart’s turn to take control, I recommend having some tissues handy. “Inner Workings” transforms the functions and processes we can’t see into ideal figures for an emotional telling of a common internal struggle.
The idea of other living creatures existing somewhere out there in the universe is disturbing to many of us. However, the picture that “Lifted” depicts is not so scary after all. The short tells the story of an angsty teenage alien as he unsuccessfully tries to abduct a human in front of his strict alien teacher who judges his every move. With hundreds of tiny knobs lined up in front of him as he sits in a UFO, the young alien reaches his breaking point. I never would have thought I’d laugh so hard while watching an alien abduction, but leave it to Pixar.
The young alien’s struggle reminds me of taking my driving test — eyeing the instructor’s pen as I made every move, trying to gauge satisfaction after my parallel parking — amplifying the experiences at every step. I felt his anxiety and how overwhelmed he was as he tried to act confident in front of his instructor, and I think that’s what makes “Lifted” so hilarious. Finding a way to relate humans and aliens, two species that are usually painted as opposites, requires a ton of creativity. “Lifted” turns toward humor to pinpoint the intersection between two seemingly unrelated beings and somehow leaves us feeling more aware of our human emotions as a result. It’s been a few days since watching, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still rooting for the young alien’s success.
Almost everyone is familiar with the fable of the “stork,” in which birds deliver babies to worthy families. “Partly Cloudy” takes this idea to the next level, depicting clouds as the creators of a variety of newborn creatures. While most clouds form kittens, puppies and babies for their storks to carry down to Earth, there’s one dark cloud that creates creatures that are less traditionally cute or harder to carry, like baby alligators and porcupines.
“Partly Cloudy” is a story about friendship above all else. The dark cloud continues to create unfavorable creatures for its stork; yet even as the stork sees the other clouds creating cute, harmless creatures, he continues to come back for more. He prepares himself with a helmet and shoulder pads, ready to take on the next dangerous creature. The short also gets at the idea of embracing our differences even when we’re afraid to do so, reminding us that all we need sometimes is a little help from our friends.
Daily Arts Writer Laura Millar can be reached at email@example.com.