Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood is far more than just a director reliving his past and cementing his history into film; it’s the feeling of a time when the impossible became possible and when stars did become reachable.
One of the most remarkable feats in the history of man happened in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the moon. The moment this happened, a moment that had the entire planet in awe, everything past the atmosphere became somewhat attainable, and for the kids of the time, fantasy became reality.
In this story, one of those kids is Stan (voiced by Milo Coy in the younger years, with narration by Jack Black as an older version) whose quick wit and exceptional athletic prowess during his elementary school recess made him a perfect candidate to pilot the Apollo 10 1/2 spacecraft. NASA was in desperate need after an error caused a slightly smaller vessel to be created, and Stan was the perfect person for the job. Having to go to undercover training over the summer of 1969 was no issue for him though, as it would all pave the way for him to be the first, and smallest, man to walk on the moon – or at least this is how it played out in his head. Of course, Stan wasn’t actually going to go to the moon, but he was able to believe it was a possibility because it was happening right in front of his eyes.
Writer/director Richard Linklater is following a pattern of directors fictionalizing their own childhood. For most of this film, Jack Black narrates how Stan grew up and what life was like then. It’s quite a bit of exposition and sometimes might feel like too much, but it does a fine job of displaying life in the late 1960s. Leapfrogging back and forth between the astronaut version of Stan and the real life one allows Linklater to truly ground this story in reality and make it one that is full of wonder and display how the dreams that kids were having then are dreams that actually were coming true.
By opting to utilize the medium of animation, Linklater is able to provide something new in a type of story that is beginning to become overdone. Originally planned to be a live-action film, Apollo 10 1/2‘s animation is a beautiful blend of rotoscoping real images into animation while using other 2D animation to bring out the time period and enhance the scenes. It’s an animation technique that isn’t used often anymore, but in this film, it not only gives the look of the late 60s, but the feel of it as well – given the fact that many of the animated movies people during that time would have watched would have looked similar.
When the big day finally comes and Astronaut Stan is planning on stepping on the moon, the real Stan is back at home, watching the landing take place. As his fantasies and reality begin to intertwine the magic of this film starts to take over. Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood is far more than a director reliving his past and cementing his history into film, it’s the feeling of a time when the impossible became possible and when stars did become reachable.
Should Have Been Considered: Best Animated Feature
Where to Watch: Netflix
Loves movies, the awards season, and this dog (even if he isn’t his).
Favorite Director: Bo Burnham
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