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  Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood OK Boomer
Year: 2022
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Jack Black, Zachary Levi, Milo Coy, Glen Powell, Josh Wiggins, Lee Eddy, Mona Lee Fultz, Jennifer Griffin, Brian Villabolos, Samuel Davis, Nick Stevenson, Bill Wise, Danielle Guilbot, Natalie L'Amoreaux, David DeLao, Jessica Brynn Cohen
Genre: Drama, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Stan (voiced by Jack Black) remembers the time he went to the moon - in 1969. Wait, how could that happen? Surely it was Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins who went to the moon on Apollo 11 in 1969? Well, it was and it wasn't - Stan was a normal enough kid, bright for his age, who lived in Houston back then with his large family, when he was approached by men from NASA with a proposal: could he travel to the satellite in a prototype spacecraft a few weeks before the official journey, just to test whether the mechanics of the rocket and module work all right? How could he say no?

You may wish he had, for Apollo 10 1/2 spends very little time on what you might think would be the main attraction: a little boy travelling to the moon in a way he might in a contemporary children's book designed to ignite interest in the science and achievement of the moon landings. There was in the nineteen-seventies a series of books called The Book of Lists, where various facts were assembled in neat Top Ten (or more) collections, and these were catnip for kids who liked to ingest facts in their purest form. That series of trivia was ideal browsing material in those pre-internet days, and that was what you got here.

Rather than a proper plot, what we had was a series of lists of things Linklater remembered from his childhood, which was all very well if you are Richard Linklater, film director, but he forgot to make it interesting for the average audience. If you liked having your memory jogged repeatedly by a guy digging an elbow in your ribs and going, "Hey, remember that thing you liked when you were a kid? And remember that other thing? And what about this?" and so on ad nauseam then you would presumably get as much out of this as you possibly could, otherwise it would prove a candy-coloured bore from a severe overestimation of nostalgia.

At first these rotoscoped versions of pop culture hold a mild interest, and may raise a smile or two of recognition, but Linklater was just relentless, and it was really necessary to have all his cultural touchstones to get the most out of it. Now, you don't need to remember the moon landings or all the accoutrements of the nineteen-sixties to appreciate a drama set there, but this was making the background the foreground and it quickly grew tedious. By the umpteenth YouTube video-style list of stuff that the director had jotted down as a warm memory - and this goes on for most of the movie - you would either be ecstatic with the warm glow of remembrance or climbing the walls going "I don't care! What about the science fiction stuff?!"

But the science fiction was not that great either, coming across as Linklater crowbarring himself into the Apollo programme with irksome entitlement, simply because he was around at the time and he considered this mission "his" because he had been so invested in it as a boy. Perhaps that was why the film presented Stan's adventure as something of an afterthought, interspersed as, yes, memories after it had happened as the real mission goes ahead smoothly - all thanks to this little boy, naturally. But worse than that, the suffocating Boomer attitude that so much was better in their day was saturated through every frame, and that could prove a definite turn-off to anyone who had become accustomed to the internet age. Some things are better, some are worse, but patronising efforts like this are the reason Millennials affect to deny the moon landings in the first place: it wasn't doing anybody any favours.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Richard Linklater  (1960 - )

Skilled indie director, specialising in dialogue-driven comedy-drama. Linklater's 1989 debut Slacker was an unusual but well-realised portrait of disaffected 20-something life in his home town of Austin, Texas, while many consider Dazed and Confused, his warm but unsentimental snapshot of mid-70s youth culture, to be one of the best teen movies ever made. Linklater's first stab at the mainstream - comedy western The Newton Boys - was a disappointment, but Before Sunrise, SubUrbia, Tape and the animated Waking Life are all intelligent, intriguing pictures.

Scored a big hit with mainstream comedy School of Rock, and reunited with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy for the acclaimed sequels Before Sunset and Before Midnight. The Bad News Bears was a weak comedy remake, but Linklater bounced back with the animated Philip K. Dick adaptation A Scanner Darkly, junk food industry satire Fast Food Nation and true life murder tale Bernie. His intimate epic Boyhood, filmed over twelve years, earned him some of the most acclaim of his career. The nostalgic follow-up Everybody Wants Some!! was less of a hit.

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