Disney's "Inner Workings" reveals key to life

By Anna Pohl, Cathedral High School

Opinion Writing

A monochromatic man walks past boisterous surfers and vacationing families to the Boring, Boring, and Glum offices to join the rows of similarly expressionless workers. Inside his sweater-clad chest, the man’s heart sheds a tear.

“Inner Workings”, a Disney short film, conveys the importance of balancing fun and work in a world which so often forgets this essential skill. According to Oh My Disney, the official Disney news site, a blend of computer generated and traditional hand-drawn animation depicts the internal struggle of Paul, an office worker, in a visually gorgeous style. Paul’s inner organs are revealed in illustrations reminiscent of old-school encyclopedia art. The majority of the seven minute film primarily features these organs, and Paul acts merely as a vehicle for the power struggle between the two main organs, Heart and Brain.

While Heart looks longingly at the colorful 80’s inspired landscape, according to Collider, Brain projects the dangerous risks of following these desires: indulging in a stack of pancakes leads to health disorders and death; wading in the ocean leads to a shark attack and death; flirting with a street vendor leads to embarrassment and death.

The anxiety exuded by Brain reflects the fear felt by so many adults who avoid risky situations such as pursuing a promotion, applying for a different job, or changing financial strategies. It also poses as a reaction to the public push for restrain to the point of self-denial, especially in the increasingly competitive business world.However, Brain and the audience soon learn that avoiding the risks which come with life does nothing but waste the numbered hours of life we possess now. We become so encumbered with protecting our lives that we forget to appreciate them.  

Once Brain makes this revelation, Heart takes the reigns and guides Paul to the beach during the office lunch break, where he meets the vendor he saw earlier and wildly splashes through the ocean with fellow beachgoers. Rejuvenated, Paul returns to the office and types at his computer with a renewed and contagious energy.

The film does not advocate for a life purely of fun nor purely of work. Instead, it stresses the importance of balance. Although it supports following the heart’s desires, “Inner Workings” also promotes realism; Paul enjoys his time on the beach yet still returns to his job.

According to its director Leonardo Matsuda, the plot was intended to reflect his own struggle to balance his two sides: logical and discipled, and party-loving. Matsuda’s inner battle is not unique to him. Too often our society causes us to focus on one aspect of our lives, whether that be social, financial, family, or career. “Inner Workings” responds with one simple but essential word: balance. This strong message, so applicable to our lives today, along with quirky music and adorable characters, makes for a touching, humorous, and entertaining short film.