By Tommy Gleason

Rating: 7.1/10

A simple, nostalgic journey through the 1960s. Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood uses animation and narration to tell a compelling story that is as relevant now as in the space age.

The film follows one day dreaming kid gazing up toward NASA’s mission to the moon, as he attempts to navigate the tumultuous time period on Earth. Stanley (Milo Coy) is a 10-year-old boy from Houston who is chosen by NASA to pilot a top secret Apollo mission (Apollo 10 1/2). But most of the story focuses on his time growing up in an area of political and social change. The film occasionally critiques social norms and beliefs of the period while also pointing out its cultural richness. 

Richard Linklater wrote and directed the historical fiction film. Linklater has a packed portfolio that includes a writing and directing credit on the Before film series (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight) and a directing credit on School of Rock (2003). However, this film is most similar to his work on Dazed and Confused (1993) because it is a coming-of-age story that uses scenery and music to create a nostalgic feel. Linklater ventured into the realm of animation for this project, but he was still able to replicate his success with a well-written script and subtle direction.

The storyline is simple but works to effectively tell the story of an American kid’s experience watching the country launch into the next frontier. The characters are funny and represent the different types of kids during the 1960s. Each family member adds to the story of the decade that changed humanity forever. The script does a great job to blend the dialogue, narration and action into a cohesive flow that keeps us drawn into the story.

The setting in the film is carefully crafted by the animators but is extremely effective in recreating 1960s Houston. We can feel as though we are taken back in time to experience the culture and events for ourselves. You can hear the crack of the vinyl and watch the beat up station wagon drive past all the neighborhood kids playing from sunup to sun down. 

Jack Black brings it all together with an easygoing narration of the story and the time. Black voices an older version of Stanley retelling the story as we watch it unfold. He is funny, but Black is more than his comedic typecast and provides the perfect mix of nostalgia and hopefulness in his voice. 

The only problem with the film may be its reception among audiences. At first glance, it looks like a family friendly film that parents can watch with their younger children. But the film is rated PG-13 because it occasionally brings up more mature topics. In this way, the film may push away childhood audiences while missing older audiences because it is entirely animated. 

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood is pumped full of nostalgic imagery and presents us with a heartwarming story. The animation is more appealing than obtrusive and adds to the storytelling in more ways than a live action film would have. I recommend the film to anyone because it is an interesting look at how NASA’s moon landing affected a generation of kids and put the film at 7.1/10.

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Pronouns: she/her/hers Kayla is a MU Journalism student with a double minor in Sociology and French. She joined MUTV's Entertainment section in the spring semester of 2021. She is currently the Technical Producer on Entertainment's Executive Board.