The name “Boomer” seems to have a super negative connotation for some – namely millennials, but I am proud to have grown up when drinking out of the hose, climbing trees, having dirt fights, swimming in the resaca, catching fireflies, playing freeze tag, family game night, and the Wonderful World of Disney were cool.  Richard Linklater, known for Dazed and Confused and Bernie, takes a delightfully nostalgic look at simpler times – and man’s first step on the moon. Vividly animated, Linklater’s Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood, now showing on Netflix.

Those of us who spent our youth in the 60s can happily and nostalgically stroll down memory lane with Stanley (voiced by Milo Coy), a young boy who has eyes for outer space and a vivid imagination. His dad works in shipping at NASA, but as Stan tells it, his dad will push the button to launch Apollo 11. Adding to excitement about the impending launch, he imagines that special agents invite him to soar to the moon because they inadvertently made a lunar lander too small for adult astronauts. We follow both Stanley and the real crew as they make history.

Linklater shares the celebrated events along with countless peeks at simpler times (his childhood memories)– choking down half thawed school lunch sandwiches, playing with friends in the park, going to Astroworld, watching Saturday morning cartoons, hiding under blankets in the back of the family’s station wagon to save a few bucks at the drive-in theatre and other special moments in time.  Linklater grew up near Houston during the Summer of 1969 when everyone around the world joined in the anticipation and excitement to see the historic moon landing.

The rotoscoping animation looks beautiful and striking. The rotoscope technique involves animating over live-action footage, photographs, and television broadcasts, and using the animation to accentuate details. It’s extremely engaging and it, too, bleeds nostalgia. Jack Black, a favorite of Linklater, voices the older Stan, a likable storyteller who gives Linklater’s preoccupation with his past and the passage of time credence and the storytelling style lends itself to personal reflection.

Some might argue that Linklater’s reminiscence pulls away from the heart of the story and bogs down the gorgeous animation, but I disagree. I loved the journey to the past and for me, it was made all the more delightful to watch. Apollo 10 ½ is a treat, filled with special memories that are not only Linklater’s but are shared by a generation of us who lived it. I am happily giving it 5 out of 5 stars. I wish I could share the simplicity of the times with my grandchildren.

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