Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
A coming-of-age story set in the suburbs of Houston, Texas in the summer of 1969, centred around the historic Apollo 11 moon landing. Available to watch on Netflix.
Richard Linklater, director of Boyhood and the Sunset trilogy of films has created a nostalgia-soaked collection of random intimate and heartfelt memories of his childhood (he calls this film “embarrassingly autobiographical”). They barely hold together as a narrative piece, but somehow they perfectly evoke the spirit of the American suburbs of the late ’60s.
Whether you lived through that period or not and whether you are American or not, the film has enough pop culture references to not just feel familiar, but also to charm the pants off anyone!
Mentions of TV series, films, food, adverts, board games cram the film often in an intentionally listy way, all to create a charming time capsule of a bygone era, when things seemed simpler, especially when seen through the eyes of a teenager. With hindsight it’s a miracles some of us are still alive, unprotected as we were from any health and safety regulations (Linklater likes to poke fun at that).
The soundtrack alone has more songs than a whole Juke-box in a diner, with too many titles to mention, from the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Johnny Cash and Pink Floyd (and many many others).
The rather obscure and silly title was a slight turn off for me, but the film uses a teenager’s obsession with rockets, space as well as the moon-landing of 1969 as a framing device to actually focus on what’s happening here on Earth and tell a beautiful coming-of-age story.
The rotoscope-style animation, in which sequences are filmed and then re-drawn over it, might take a moment to get use to, but it gives the film a warm dreamy quality that perfectly matches the mood and the feel of the time.
In addition to that, the light-hearted narration by Jack Black, remembering his childhood, infuses everything with a sense of realism which at times makes it feel almost like a documentary. This might well be an animated film, but don’t think for a moment it is one for children. In fact it’ll play best to those who WERE children back then.
It’s meandering, at times all over the place and the lack of a proper story might be hard for some to swallow, but if you’re willing to let yourself go, you might just lose yourself in it and find little unexpected gems. It might just warm your soul just like it did to me.
Thank you Netflix.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood is available to watch on Netflix.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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