Connect with us
Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood review
Image: Netflix


Linklater’s Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood Does Boomer Nostalgia Exactly Right 

A coming-of-age story set in the suburbs of Houston, Texas in the summer of 1969, centered around the historic Apollo 11 moon landing.

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood Review

There are two things that the movies have given us more than enough of in the last 25 years: Nostalgia for the events of the late 1960s, and nostalgia for the specific youthful Texas experiences of director Richard Linklater. 

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood, Linklater’s newest animated movie, offers a great deal of both of those things. Somehow, it’s so well-executed and built on such a great hook, that it’s more than forgivable that we’ve seen so much of this sort of thing before. 

The new film debuted at the South by Southwest festival, in the director’s hometown of Austin, and debuts on April 1 on Netflix, Linklater’s first film for the service, and his first release at all since 2019’s underwhelming Where’d You Go, Bernadette? It’s absolutely outstanding, and Linklater’s best film in several years. 

A Space Age Childhood
Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood – Cr: Netflix © 2022

Apollo 10½ uses the same rotoscoped animation that Linklater previously brought to Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, with actors filmed in person and later traced over with animation. But rather than stoned aimlessness or Dickian dystopia, Apollo 10½ is a wistful remembrance of being a kid in suburban Houston in the era of hippies, the Astrodome, and (of course) the Apollo 11 landing. 

From the description, the film sounds like something cliched beyond belief. Stan, the narrator (voiced, in an inspired choice, by Jack Black) looks back on the touchstones of his youth. Yes, it sounds like The Wonder Years, and it’s interspersed with many of the usual Linklater hobbyhorses, including baseball, rock music,  family dynamics, and even 2001: A Space Odyssey. For long stretches, it’s just Black listing stuff he liked when he was a kid, including one moment when he just names 30 different vintage TV shows. 

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood
Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood – Cr: Netflix © 2022

Yes, this all sounds cliched as hell, up to and including the film’s extensive use of the type of vintage music that almost always pops up in a late ’60s-set picture (there are at least two songs in it that were also on the Forrest Gump soundtrack.) But once again, Linklater comes at the material with such a unique angle that it all works. 

We see a bit of Stan’s home life, including his parents and a large group of siblings. But the director’s stand-in’s memories are briefly interrupted by a fantastical device in which Stan is asked to personally participate in a NASA mission since they’ve built the lunar module too small for the adult astronauts. The NASA handlings are voiced by Zachary Levi and Glen Powell, who was the breakout in the director’s Everybody Wants Some!! 

The space stuff ties in well with the film’s focus on those times, while it also — shades of Damien Chazelle’s First Man — takes a brief moment to recognize the “Whitey’s on the moon” viewpoint on the moon launch. 

Many of Linklater’s best movies are inspired by his own experiences, from his teenage revelry (Dazed and Confused) to his 20s in Austin (Slacker) to his college baseball career (Everybody Wants Some!!) to the time he met a woman and walked around a city with her for an entire day (Before Sunrise) to his entire childhood (Boyhood.) You can add Apollo 10½ to that list, showing that Linklater hasn’t run out of personal inspiration quite yet. 

  • Stephen Silver
Watch Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood

Now Streaming

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Vesper poster Vesper poster

Vesper: Sci-Fi That Thinks Big With Limited Means


Anti-War Anti-War

Three Bestselling Anti-War Novels, Three A-List Film Adaptations…Three Flops:  Castle Keep, Catch-22, Slaughterhouse-Five


Your Full List of All Upcoming Marvel Movies Your Full List of All Upcoming Marvel Movies

A Full List Of Upcoming Marvel Studios Film And TV Releases


Robocop 1987 Robocop 1987

RoboCop is a Social Satire That Gets More Relevant With Age


Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues

Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues


Unforgiven movie review Unforgiven movie review

Unforgiven Ushered the Western into its Afterlife 


Nope Nope

Jordan Peele’s Nope Explained: A Spectacle of “Bad Miracles”


Alex's War (2022) Alex's War (2022)

Alex’s War, a Documentary Study of Alex Jones, Misses the Big Picture 


Signs movie review Signs movie review

M. Night Shyamalan Signs Finds Comfort at the End of the World


All Out 2022 Predictions All Out 2022 Predictions

Way Too Early Predictions for All Out 2022


Biography: WWE Legends’ Look at Goldberg is One of the Best Wrestling Documentaries Ever 


Detective vs Sleuths Detective vs Sleuths

Detective vs. Sleuths: Buckle Up for a Bumpy Ride


Incredible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin Fan Film Takes The Franchise Into R-Rated Territory


The Gray Man movie review The Gray Man movie review

Netflix’s The Gray Man is its Most Expensive and Emptiest Star Vehicle


Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop 1987 Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop 1987

Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop is an Anti-Fascist Classic 


Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con

Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con 2022: A Full Recap