Stanley (voice of Jack Black) narrates the story of his childhood, growing up in Houston, Texas. The story is set in 1969, the time of the first moon landing, when Houston was a brand-new town. This was a time when families were large because contraception wasn’t widely used. Children played mostly outdoors and travelled sitting in the back of pick-up trucks. Fathers drove while drinking beer, and mothers smoked continuously. People covered their breakfast cereals with sugar.
Young Stanley (voice of Milo Coy) is the youngest of 6 children growing up in a town dominated by the space station, which employs most of Houston’s adults. Stan has a great imagination and exaggerates many stories. For example, he says that his father (voice of Bill Wise) is an astronaut, when he actually works in shipping and delivery at NASA. Stan also often finds himself in trouble at school for lying or rudeness.
One day some NASA agents come to recruit Stan to test their spacecraft, which has inadvertently been made too small. Stan happily agrees. The only problem is that it’s top secret and Stan can’t tell anyone at all. His family will be told that he’s at summer camp.
Stan ends up having his own moon adventure that pre-dates the first official steps on the moon.
Coming of age; 1960s; childhood nostalgia; space exploration; fantasy
Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood has some violence. For example:
- Boys play sport in a rough way. Someone throws a ball at Stan.
- A teacher punishes some boys by making them stand on tip-toe against a wall. A principal punishes children by hitting them hard with a bat. A mother hits her child with the wooden spoon.
- Some brief footage of the Vietnam War shows soldiers firing rifles. A soldier points a rifle directly at a man. An injured man is also seen.
- Young people kick a pinball machine.
- Stan and his brothers fight occasionally.
- A boy sets off a Roman candle with a grasshopper inside as the pilot.
- During a game of Red Rover, a boy has a sharp object embedded in his arm. His arm is dripping in blood.
- Footage shows Neil Armstrong landing a spacecraft, which explodes during training.
Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood has some sexual references. For example:
- Stan’s brother Steve has some Playboy magazines hidden in a cupboard.
- At the drive-in Stan and his brothers roam around looking for couples ‘making out’. They say they can tell by whether the tail light is going on and off.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood shows some use of substances. For example:
- Stan’s mother smokes continuously.
- Some young people smoke.
- Stan’s father drinks often and smokes cigars.
- People drink at a party.
- Stan’s older sister explains to the other children that ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’ is code for LSD.
Nudity and sexual activity
Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, at the drive-in, a car bounces up and down with a shadowy couple inside.
The following products are displayed or used in Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood: Kellogg’s, Coke, Esso, Monopoly and Baskin-Robbins.
Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood is an animated movie with real-life characters. It’s wonderfully evocative of childhood in the 1960s. It’s also an interesting historical commentary on life in the 1960s. For example, it shows how children had to make their own fun in a time before digital technology, although it also shows how life could be hard for children.
This movie is likely to appeal to a broad audience, but it does have scenes and themes that make it unsuitable for younger children. It isn’t recommended for children under 12 years, and we also recommend parental guidance for children aged 12-15 years.
The main messages from Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood are that optimism can overcome doom and gloom and that imagination is a force for good.
Values in Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood that you could reinforce with your children include family and a simple life. You could also acknowledge the period’s lack of social diversity.
Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the following:
- Why is Stan’s mother ostracised at church for taking the pill?
- Stan’s father takes wood from the surplus for his own use. Is this stealing?
- When does exaggeration become a lie? When is it OK for children to exaggerate?
- Is corporal punishment ever a good thing?