Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood tells the story of the first moon landing in the summer of 1969 from two interwoven perspectives – the astronaut and mission control view of the triumphant moment, and through the eyes of a kid growing up in Houston, Texas who has intergalactic dreams of his own. Taking inspiration from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Richard Linklater’s own life, Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood is a snapshot of American life in the 1960s that is part coming of age, part societal commentary, and part out-of-this-world adventure.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood tells a creative twist on a story we all know well, NASA’s moon mission, and makes us think that history is not always as it seems. Based on the childhood fantasies of director Richard Linklater, this animated dramedy perfectly weaves together classic childhood coming-of-age memories, late 1960’s pop music and NASA’s historic race to moon.” See her full review and interview with the director below.

Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood

By Katherine S. , KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood tells a creative twist on a story we all know well, NASA’s moon mission, and makes us think that history is not always as it seems. Based on the childhood fantasies of director Richard Linklater, this animated dramedy perfectly weaves together classic childhood coming-of-age memories, late 1960’s pop music and NASA’s historic race to moon.

This nostalgic movie, set in suburbs of Houston in 1969, follows the childhood of Stan, who is voiced by Milo Coy as a child and Jack Black as an adult. The pressure to get to the moon is ever growing, but NASA builds the lunar module too small, so they turn to Stan to do the job before astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins suit up for their famous Apollo mission. Unfortunately, Stan cannot tell anyone, not even his family.

The animation is one of the coolest things about this movie and really sets it apart from other animated films I’ve seen. It is a mix of live action with hand drawn and computer animation. I also enjoy how accurate it is to the era, so that as a period piece it does not feel artificial. All the clothes, houses, dialogue, objects and even actions reflect that of the time. I always hear my parents talk about their childhood during this era, but I could never really imagine it until I saw this movie. Jack Black is the perfect choice to play adult Stan as his accent is so subtle and his tone is perfect to play an older Stan. And Milo Coy wonderfully captures the personality of a 10 and ½ year old.

The message of Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood is that mistakes are okay and that not everything is always as it seems. This movie shows some unhealthy and unsafe practices, which were more common in the 1960’s, like smoking, riding in the back of a pickup truck or in cars without seatbelts, and playing with fireworks in the middle of a street. However, the narrator, the adult version of Stan, explains how dangerous these behaviors are. There are also a couple of graphic injury scenes and slight profanity.

I give Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Anyone who loves space and maybe even remembers the actual lunar landing will definitely enjoy it also. This movie premiered at South by Southwest on March 13, 2022 and will be on Netflix on April 1, 2022.

Keywords: Richard Linklater, Tommy Pallotta, Mike Blizzard, Femke Wolting, Bruno Felix, Glen Powell, Zachary Levi, Jack Black, Shane Kelly, Milo Coy, Josh Wiggins, Sandra Adair, Netflix Animation, Minnow Mountain, Submarine, Detour Film Production


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