Turns out I hate myself. Or at least I’m a wanton for emotional punishment. Maybe the two are one in the same.

Earlier this year, I found The Little Prince next to our computer and decided to read it to my kids. I knew it was a classic in the Mark Twain sense of being a book much praised but never read (well, at least by me). We’d had it on our shelves for years–though that turned out to be the French version from Amy’s high school days–and I’d never once thought of giving it a try until that fateful night.

As I got near the end of the book, I remember Finley asking me, “Daddy, why are you crying?” I’m pretty sure I cried halfway through the night. That’s certainly more of a reaction than either One Fish, Two Fish or Frog and Toad have managed to evoke.

And yet, when The Little Prince came on Netflix, I thought it would be a good idea to watch it. So stupid.

Now, there is at least a bit of logic behind my decision. I’d read the reviews, and many of them said that the book’s plot had been minimized and twisted to make it much less of an emotional punch. It’d certainly be no problem for stoic me (my wife is undoubtedly out there laughing at my choice of adjectives).

They did make changes in the film. Some odd ones that did lessen to the emotional punch. The story, however, is potent enough that even through the changes it only had me crying to the end of the movie, rather than half the night.

Let me just briefly touch on the changes made in the film. The movie is really about The Little Girl who is finding out about The Little Prince as told by The Aviator. The Little Girl is being pressed by her mom and society at large to grow up too fast, to become “essential” in the world of business. The Aviator is trying to show her that there’s more to life.

The animated addition layered on top of the retelling of the book ends up being. . .fine. It works well in the first half as a medium for The Aviator to tell his tale without the use of the dreaded voice-over. The second half is a bit more frustrating. Basically, the filmmakers take The Little Prince and condense it down to a simple interpretation of forgetting childhood. It’s okay, but it really cuts down on the profundity of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s original work. It’s also a bit odd that they shortened and even cut parts from the original story (where’s the lamplighter?) to give more time to the fluff.

Fortunately–or unfortunately for my stupid, crying eyes–the source material manages to shine through. There’s a lot to digest, and I’m not about to write a dissertation dissecting his work, but Saint-Exupéry was a man who had lost his whole country to the Nazis, who had struggles with his marital life, who was suffering through depression when he wrote The Little Prince, and ultimately gave his life in a reconnaissance mission trying to help the Allies liberate France. So many of those themes are in his book and manage to make their way to the film (yes, even The Aviator’s death). It ends up being so much more than an extended Toys-R-Us commercial warning kids to not grow up, even if at times it threatens to be such.

So what did my kids learn from all of this? Heck if I know. Probably that Daddy cries to much.

Finley was obsessed with The Businessman, wanting to know why he did what he did. He was drawn into a sequence at the end with The Businessman more than any other, part of what I considered the fluff. If Finley is indicative of what other kids like–though in my experience, he’s typically not–then the filmmakers had some idea of what they were doing in crafting a modern day children’s movie, even if they had to push aside some of the classic content.

Kella, even days later kept asking about the rose. The beautiful, sad rose. She told me she didn’t like the movie because of the way other people treated The Aviator. I can’t say I blame her there.

Anyway, my overall point being that it’s still a good movies, despite the filmmakers layering on more of that annoying “live your dream” and “business is bad” crap. It won’t corrupt your kids too much. Though it should make the adults in the room get at least a bit misty eyed.