If you are an adult between the ages of 25 and 35 with a beating heart and childhood memories, Disney’s live-action Winnie the Pooh movie, Christopher Robin, is for you.
It’s 90 percent delightful and 10 percent the acute feeling that you’ve lost a time of your life that you’ll never get back. You will have to confront this feeling anyway. Why not do it through this enjoyable film?
Why this Winnie the Pooh movie may crush you
Christopher Robin stars Ewan McGregor as an adult version of Pooh’s human pal. In the present, he’s both a father and a World War II veteran, and he fails to provide emotional support for his daughter! (None of this should be confused for the 2017 film Goodbye Christopher Robin, which stars a Jude Law-looking Domhnall Gleeson as an adult A.A. Milne, who is both a father and a World War I veteran who fails to provide emotional support for his son!)
The strait-laced Christopher sacrifices a family vacation to work through the weekend. Of course, an untimely reappearance by Pooh upends this plan, and leads Christopher back to the Hundred Acre Wood — and a healthy work-life balance. As a fan of the animated movies, I found Pooh’s humor perfect. He’s whimsical and literal, with a total ignorance of social norms that doesn’t veer into cringe territory. Look at him!
Netflix is the only good way to watch Christopher Robin
I watched Christopher Robin on an airplane. This was not the right move. In the opening scene, all of young Christopher Robin’s stuffed animals throw him a goodbye party! This is when my hysterical weeping began.
I caught the in-flight tear-jerker after a visit to see my dad, who has lived overseas since my parents split up when I was 17. Because I didn’t spend much time with my dad between my final years of teenhood and my college graduation, there is a temporal gap in our perceptions of each other. Once upon a time I was a two-parts silly, one-part sullen teenager that didn’t get into any colleges and spent too much time online. Now I’m an adult with a full-time creative job and a shocking amount of financial stability. Like Christopher Robin and his stuffed animal pals, my dad and I both blinked and missed the transformation.
The Hundred Acre Wood gang remembers Christopher as a happy boy who loves to play. Adult Christopher is too serious, and too focused on work. He cares about his family, but when pressed he’ll still prioritize his job over their feelings every time. This comes from a place of love; as we are all grimly aware, we need money to live. Still, Christopher never compromises, and believes that by putting work first he is putting his family first.
Boy, can I relate, when I remember that I haven’t made time to call my parents (who are aging every day), or can’t take long weekends to see my grandmother (who I can no longer see). Those thoughts came rushing back while I watched Christopher Robin on the airplane. I tried to Keep Cool, but at a certain point in the confined space of United Airlines flight 8871 you have to realize that tears are going to keep coming out of your eyes, and you’ll never see these people again anyway.
But you don’t have to embarrass yourself and then never shut up about it. You can watch Christopher Robin in your home, where it’s safe to cry! For as long as it’s on Netflix (and when it’s inevitably on Disney Plus down the road), you can watch it in the middle of the night, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or whenever else no one is around except whatever anxieties weigh heavy on your head in the dark.
Appreciate what you have
As you can guess, in a Disney-fied way, Christopher finds a way to have a job and a family holiday (stuffed animals included). He prioritizes what’s actually important: giving his daughter a childhood, and enjoying the time he has with her now. It’s a wake-up call to never let a potential moment of happiness slip through your fingers.
I’m not a parent, but I imagine that it’s hard coming to terms with your kid growing up. Every so often, my dad talks to me like I’m a teen again. I bristle and snap, quick to remind him that I’m not a kid: not immature, not irresponsible, not embarrassing. It’s the same impulse that leads Christopher Robin to yell at Pooh for not taking anything seriously. We’re adults now — didn’t you know? We lash out at people who forget that, and it hurts them, and it hurts us too. We choose, in that moment, what to prioritize.
What if I let myself be an adult who is also his child?
Sometimes it’s hard realizing you’ve grown up, and harder still to remember that you don’t have to be — not all the time.