Parents' Guide to

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood

By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Language, '60s-era upheaval in evocative nostalgia trip.

Movie PG-13 2022 97 minutes
Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood Movie Poster

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This entertaining, semi-autobiographical film is brimming with nostalgia for a simpler time when kids were left to their own devices and society had a reason to come together for a common cause. Have we lost the ability to so broadly share communal emotion, like neighbors did in 1969 when a man first walked on the moon, captured so eloquently in Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood? Richard Linklater seems to be asking the question without posing it directly, just as he wistfully depicts aspects of the late 1960s that were truly less than idyllic, like canned meals, indoor chain-smoking, and social inequalities.

The film intentionally plays with the idea of memory, as Stan's recollection of participating in the Apollo mission suggests, though this is ironically the least engaging part of the tale. The film also combines animation technologies to evoke the time period in a way that is both realistic and simulated. The first half "let me tell you about life back then" exposition is riveting, and viewers of a certain age, in particular, will be transported. Its first-person narration (voiced by Jack Black) is reminiscent of The Wonder Years. Will younger viewers grasp the chills of what it was like to see the first photo of earth from space or watch men walk on the moon on live television? Maybe not, but animating the story and telling it from the perspective of a child represents a remarkably valiant effort at translating a mood across time and, well, space.

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