When audiences go to theaters on November 23rd to see Moana, they will get a surprising treat before the feature. A brand-new short from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Inner Workings, is unlike anything the studio has ever done before. Brace yourselves for one of the most delightfully peculiar shorts ever produced.
The human body isn’t exactly unexplored territory for Disney, or the animated medium for that matter, but I’ve never seen it explored like this before. The extinct Epcot attraction Cranium Command took you inside a human body with actors portraying vital organs with military precision, Warner Brothers’ Osmosis Jones shone a light on blood cells using the human body as a cityscape, and even Pixar’s Inside Out went inside the human mind. But even still, there’s never been something quite like Inner Workings.
The setting for Inner Workings is a single, middle-aged man who works at “Boring, Boring & Glum,” where he has a monotonous data entry job. But the stars of the short are brain and heart, who are constantly at odds over what should be done. They will have to work together to help their host find happiness.
Inner Workings is almost a psychological exploration of how our fears and logic can sometimes hold us back from what we emotionally need. From delicious food to fun temptations, Paul finds a reason to deny himself happiness at every opportunity during an average workday.
With very little dialogue, almost the entire story is told in pantomime. Heart’s emotions are all conveyed through facial expressions and body language (if that’s even possible) and his friends, the lungs, console him during sad times. Brain, on the other hand, is able to show the thoughts he is supplying to the human, which often involve deadly outcomes. There is one bonus character inside the body who I’ll leave as a surprise since he offers some of the biggest laughs.
I get queasy easily by the inside of the human body and I have to admit when the short started, I was tempted to look away. But it may have actually cured me of my disgust in some ways by making the brain, heart and lungs almost cute, perhaps even lovable. While you have no choice in seeing Inner Workings if you’re attending Moana, I hope that you find it as charming and delightful as I did.
I give Inner Workings 4.5 out of 5 green sunglasses.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.