My fiancée loves Winnie the Pooh. Her birthday recently made for perfect timing to bring her to see the new film Christopher Robin. On our way to the theater we heard a station on the radio giving review commentary on the new production by Walt Disney Pictures. It could not have been more negative: dark, depressing, and no hope were among the main characteristics spoken to our ears. Joanna quickly grew doubtful about our plans to head to the movie theater. She worried that the new picture might ruin the love for the original she has had in her mind.
I convinced her that we should go anyway. “Worse comes to worse we can walk out,” I said. (I found gift cards so it was easy for me to say that.) Her doubts were dismissed by the new film and its take on what happens when Christopher Robin loses his way as an adult stuck in work and the “real world.”
The movie starts off with how things ought to be: laughter, joy, and a profound focus on relationship as the grounding of all human endeavors. Pooh, Tigger, and the gang are all together with Christopher as they go on adventures and eat more honey and sweets than they think is possible. Then Mr. Robin says his goodbyes and heads to boarding school. With that, everything changes.
He promised he would never forget them, but his studies and then future position at work creates a man that wouldn’t recognize Hundred Acre Wood if it hit him in the face. Christopher’s wife and daughter all see his life being consumed and determined by the lifestyle of all work and no fun. However, he was more than merely rejecting fun. He was turning his back on his marriage and on his daughter — the two people who simply wanted to be with the man that meant the world to them.
Things actually get worse before they get better when Pooh shows up by walking through the famous teddy bear-sized door in a tree. Winnie is on a mission to find his friends who all seem to have disappeared from Hundred Acre Wood. He enlists the help of his old friend who continues to reject him until he grows infuriated that Pooh he will not leave his home. Christopher vows to go back to the Wood to help Pooh find his lost crew.
In the process Mr. Robin finds out that he is, in fact, an infamous heffalump — the monsters that all creatures in the Wood feared most because they made it their life’s mission to destroy imagination and adventure. Only when he yells at the top of his lungs at Winnie the Pooh and falls into a pit deserting him, does he realize that his work and life have made him into a monster — one who desires to drive out all happiness and joy for the sake of being an adult and living in the “real world.”
Christopher Robin then embarks on the road to finding himself, his family, Pooh, and the whole gang. “Sometimes doing nothing leads to the best something,” says Pooh to Christopher. Halfway through the film Mr. Robin hates this line and responds by saying, “nothing comes from nothing.” We can’t act like children and focus on fun when there is work to do and money to be made. By the end of the movie the tables have turned and Christopher uses this line to save the company, his life, and his family.
Ultimately this film is about how we often forget who we really are, how we settle to live in a reality consumed and determined by money and work. Our job and income are good and they enable us to provide things for the people we love. But when we make them into the highest goals we set out to reach, the people around us and ourselves suffer tremendous consequences.
I urge you to watch Christopher Robin for yourself whether you know anything about Pooh or not. (I knew nothing.) Watch as it takes a man to reach an incredible low before he recognizes what he has become. Then let us vow to never settle for being a monstrous adult. Let us choose to live and love as children not by being childish, but by never forgetting that relationship, simply being with others, and doing “nothing” with the ones we love is what life is all about.
Joanna was concerned that the movie might crush her childhood love for a character of hope and light. Maybe the person who gave the review on that radio station was a member of the “adult clan” who only pledges allegiance to the “real world.”
Lesson learned: cherish childhood creations, revere relationships, and sometimes choose to do absolutely nothing with the ones you love.