The Rocketship of Youth: Our Review of ‘Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical, What's Streaming? by - March 25, 2022
The Rocketship of Youth: Our Review of ‘Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood’

When you are growing up, life is all about perspective.

In theatres today and streaming on Netflix on April 1st; Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood has the classic Richard Linklater charm for days wrapped up in a coming age story that everyone can relate to no matter where you grew up.

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.

It’s genuine nostalgia, but at its most specific which is probably why the sweetness factor of it all is off the charts as this obvious labour of love from writer/director Richard Linklater will undoubtedly charm you right in the sweet spot that will make you want to watch it over and over again.

Embracing the performance capture (or rotoscope) style of animation that he used in previous efforts like Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, Linklater immediate allows us as audience members to experience something much more whimsical then a live-action coming of age story would have allowed us to embrace.  While it is admittedly a tiny bit train of thought and moments that feel scattered, it’s supposed as we embrace the youngest member of his family giving us a duel recap of life with his family but also with his secret mission in space.

It’s truly a deft move here to give us what is essentially history and play it like it is a piece of fantasy not being overly beholden to logic or structure, truly in a way that a kid would actually tell the story.  The story that we are seeing unfold is effortlessly paced and rife with sentimentality for a time when everyone was dreaming about what could happen in the world in the future.

The irony of that isn’t lost on us as viewers as we appreciate the magic of the time and we’re allowed to have a little bit of that hope that was rife at the time for what the future held for us all.

Thankfully there are no Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy cameos to distract the audience from the story at hand.  With Jack Black as our narrator and the likes of Zachary Levi, Glen Powell, Josh Wiggins and other doing great character we truly get to see this story play out like a genuine ensemble piece, because while we’ll admit the story of young Stan (Played by Milo Coy, narrated by Jack Black) is the undeniable protagonist of the story, what we really get roped into is those memories of family that Linklater is lovingly recreating on the screen through the frame of this character’s voice.

Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter where you see Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood on the big screen (like at the TIFF Bell Lightbox now) or on Netflix as of April 1st, it’s just important that you see it as the film is a piece of genuine hope in our world to remind us that those feelings we had when we were kids are still actually out there.  Having the privilege of seeing this story might even get you in a nostalgic mood looking to recapture some of those days, we know it has for this critic.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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