Looked at one way, there's nothing particularly ambitious about Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood. Part quasi-memoir, part nostalgic fantasy, the animated movie draws from director Richard Linklater's childhood experiences living in the shadow of NASA during the moonshot era, with one big difference: Milo, the child at the center of the story, has been secretly tasked with manning his own moon mission, because NASA accidentally built one of the lunar landers too small.
This amusing conceit offers a funny nod both to NASA's glitch-prone engineering and its can-do spirit, and it mostly serves as a narrative hook to pull together the movie's digressive observations about the era and its culture.
The movie's subtle daring comes from its embrace of the kid's hopeful outlook: Milo's world was awash in new technology and the promise of a better future, powered by cultural and physical innovation, from AstroTurf to pop music. NASA critics will probably find the movie too hagiographic, but it's hard to dislike this gentle, genial picture and its belief in the inspirational power of the frontier, whether in Texas or on the moon.
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