Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood

The next new film on Netflix that I got around to tonight was the new animated film from Richard Linklater, Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood.

This told the fictionalized story of a fourth grade boy imagining himself as the first person to step on the moon during the time frame of the actual Apollo 11 crew’s historic moonwalk.

The film, with a voice over by Jack Black as the adult Stanley, reminded me very much of the Wonder Years television comedy from ABC. It was narrated by the older version of one of the kids in the story, Stan, and detailed the combustible decade of the 1960s. There is a large section of the film dedicated to all things 1960s, from the TV programs to the movies to the music to he Vietnam War. Again, much like the Wonder Years, it provided the point of view of a man looking back over his life.

The animation was fun. It felt like it was nearly live action, but the animation style was apparently based on that of Saturday morning cartoons. However it was decided, the animation was excellent and carried a definite nostalgic tone to it, much like the entire screenplay, also written by Linklater.

Along with Jack Black, the voice cast included Milo Coy, Zachary Levi, Glen Powell, Josh Wiggins, Lee Eddy, Bill Wise, Natalie L’Amoreaux, Jessica Brynn Cohen, Sam Chipman and Danielle Guilbot.

Stanley was in a family of six kids, whose father worked at NASA in one of the more undistinguished jobs. Stanley’s father still brought an excitement and energy to the landing of the Apollo mission.

It was kind of odd since the film started with a couple of NASA agents arriving and recruiting Stan to be an astronaut and land on the moon in the Apollo 10 1/2 mission because the capsule had been made too small and would only fit a young person and Stan’s ability at kickball helped cement his recruitment. This fantasy was interwoven through the storyline and we saw Stan begin his training and eventually launch into space, despite still being at home. The two distinct POVs made this a touch confusing at times, but certainly an original manner in which to tell the tale.

Filled to the brim with nostalgia, Apollo 10 1/2 does not have much of a narrative structure. However, it is a intriguing and memorable record of what the 1960s was like and how historic the time period would become. This was a lot of fun and quite thoroughly enjoyable.

4.25 stars

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