Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood Parent Guide
This 90 minute rotoscoped nostalgia trip into the 1960s gives families an up close and personal look at the space race.
Parent Movie Review
Growing up in Houston in the 1960s means a constant exposure to the excitement of the Space Race. The Astrodome, AstroWorld, and even AstroTurf, all reflect the local obsession with the huge developments taking place in the NASA Mission Control Center.
Stanley (Milo Coy, adult voice-over by Jack Black) is no exception, being completely caught up in the all-consuming space frenzy that surrounds him. His father (Bill Wise) even works at NASA. Along with his five siblings, Stanley enjoys the fruits of massive technological advancement stemming from the space program, everything from portable radios to color TV.
Watching real astronauts prepare to go to the moon isn’t enough for Stanley: his imagination comes up with an exciting alternate reality. He dreams of being the first kid on the moon, specially selected for a pee-wee space program called Apollo 10 ½. Even if those dreams stay dreams, the real mission is coming up soon…
Apollo 10 ½ is less a story and more a 90 minute rotoscoped nostalgia trip. Linklater, as writer, director, and producer, has crafted a love letter to the joys of his own 1960s upbringing. Even Jack Black, who narrates most of the story, has a strange connection to the story: his mother, Judith Love Cohen, was an electrical engineer on several Apollo systems. Their affection for their childhoods keeps the film from feeling like syrupy autobiography, instead turning the movie into a sweet little time capsule.
The Apollo program always offers an interesting series of comparisons, which Stanley highlights well. It’s the height of the Cold War and America is facing the threat of nuclear annihilation, a divisive conflict in Vietnam, and a cultural rift that is tearing the country apart at home. Apollo, while not universally popular, represents a huge, unifying moment for Americans.
Don’t let me scare you off with talk about the zeitgeist of middle America in the 60’s: the film isn’t that complex. While it touches on these topics, it’s completely suitable for older children and teens, who are not only going to enjoy the excitement of man’s first steps on the moon, but the insane unsupervised freedoms and entertainments available to children at the time (at least by modern standards). Parents have little to worry about, apart from the risk that your kids might ask you to let them ride in the back of an unsecured pickup truck at highway speeds. In fairness, it does look fun – even if it is likely to result in some hideous injury.Directed by Richard Linklater. Starring Zachary Levi, Jack Black, Glen Powell. Running time: 97 minutes. Theatrical release April 1, 2022. Updated March 30, 2022
Watch the trailer for Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood
Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood
Rating & Content Info
Why is Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood rated PG-13? Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some suggestive material, injury images, and smoking
Violence: Children are seen breaking bones and bleeding from accidental injury. There are several scenes depicting corporal punishment. Children play with fireworks and make a canon. An image of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination is briefly seen. Images from the Vietnam War are seen on the news. Racism is mentioned.
Sexual Content: A couple are briefly seen kissing in a car. Birth control is verbally mentioned. A teenager’s pornographic magazine is confiscated by a parent.
Profanity: There is one use of scatological profanity and several uses of mild cursing and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently seen smoking (as was common at the time) and drinking socially. Adults are seen drinking while driving, which was apparently legal in Texas at the time. A teenager explains hidden drug references in a popular song.
Page last updated March 30, 2022
Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood Parents' Guide
The movie references objections to the Space Race. What are some criticisms of the space program? What other uses did people suggest for the huge amounts of money spent putting man on the moon? What was the broader purpose of the space race?
History.com: Space Race
Wikipedia: Space Race
Related home video titles:
Fans of the space race will enjoy First Man, Apollo 11, Apollo 13, In the Shadow of the Moon, October Sky, Hidden Figures, and The Right Stuff, along with more sci-fi approaches like The Martian, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gravity, Contact, Ad Astra, Gataga, and Interstellar.
Director Richard Linklater also experimented with rotoscoping in A Scanner Darkly, and worked with Jack Black in School of Rock. If you’re interested in this animation style, you may enjoy Flee, an Oscar-nominated documentary about a young refugee from Afghanistan.