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Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood | 2022 | PG-13 | – 3.4.4

content-ratingsWhy is “Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood” rated PG-13? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “some suggestive material, injury images, and smoking.” The evaluation includes a brief kissing scene, several suggestive images and discussions of sex, television footage of the Vietnam War, discussions of assassination and poverty, discussions of the Apollo 1 tragedy, corporal punishment, many arguments, and some strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.

This animated film is loosely based on the 1968-1969 childhood years of director Richard Linklater (voiced by Jack Black as the adult narrator and voiced by Milo Coy as the fourth-grade boy): Two NASA officials (voiced by Glen Powell and Zachary Levi) recruit a boy for a top-secret mission to help beat the Russians in the Space Race. Also with the voices of Lee Eddy, Bill Wise, Natalie L’Amoreaux, Jessica Brynn Cohen, Danielle Guilbot, Josh Wiggins and Sam Chipman. Directed by Linklater. [Running Time: 1:38]

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood SEX/NUDITY 3

 – A man and woman kiss goodbye briefly one morning, and in another scene, they hold hands briefly. A young boy stares at a picture on an album cover of a woman covered only in whipped cream from just above the nipples to the seat she is sitting on; she is licking whipped cream from a finger and looking seductively at the camera.
 A man says that Catholic neighbors “pop out a kid every year” and we see eight children in the family; he says his own mom “got on the pill” and feared excommunication from the church. Two young boys at a drive-in movie look for couples making out in cars and say they found such a couple because a tail light was flashing; we don’t see the couple. A fourth grade boy can’t decide if a longhaired individual is a man without facial hair or a woman.
 A poster in three boys’ room shows Raquel Welch wearing a skimpy animal skin that reveals cleavage, and legs to the upper thighs; a man enters the room, opens a dresser drawer, pulls out a stack of Playboy magazines, looks angrily at the boys, and walks out with the magazines (a woman wearing a bikini is shown on the top cover and cleavage, bare abdomen and legs to the hips are seen). A woman wears crop tops that show a portion of her abdomen. Preteen boys and girls at a beach and a pool wear either swim trunks or one-piece swimsuits, while younger girls wear bikinis and tiny skirts around the bottoms and one teen girl wears a bikini that bares shoulders, arms, cleavage and thighs.

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood VIOLENCE/GORE 4

 – A fourth-grade boy hits another boy’s arm and the victim screams as we see blood and a broken end of a bone sticking out. In a silent scene at school, a woman paddles a young boy several times with a large wooden paddle. A female teacher tells two fourth-grade boys to go stand in a hallway; a man takes the boys to an office and we hear loud whacks behind a closed door; a third boy walks out with his head down and the narrator says the other two boys were paddled. In a silent scene, a woman paddles two boys with a large wooden spoon; the narrator says it seems that all adults were allowed to paddle any child.
 Several TV scenes include men in Vietnam firing loud cannons and machine guns, a man with a bandaged head, war protesters in the U.S. shouting at police, and we hear that 148 Americans died in Vietnam in one day. Hundreds of Russian soldiers march in formation and tanks parade with large missiles on them, as a narrator says Americans are afraid of dying from an H-bomb attack. TV commercials show how to “duck and cover” to survive an atomic blast that we see in the distance, and a man watching says it would never work. We hear that JFK was murdered and see his brother RFK lying dead on a restaurant floor in 1968, his eyes staring up at the ceiling. A movie screen shows a huge fire with flames and black smoke as a firefighter sprays it with water.
 We hear that the Apollo 1 astronauts died in a launch pad fire. A man complains to a reporter that because there is so much poverty in America, NASA should not be spending so much money going into space. A woman denigrates a young man for having long hair and tells her NASA-employed husband to “beat the Russkies,” and a teen girl calls a group of diverse men and women wearing bell-bottoms and long hair or Afros, “those people.”
 A grandmother in a house smokes near her grandchildren (please see the Substance Use category for more details) and tells them the environment is deteriorating fast because of overpopulation; she also says JFK is alive, but is a vegetable and being held on a Greek Island and the mother of the children, who is also smoking near the kids, shouts at her mother and tells her to shut-up.
 A fourth-grade boy is approached at school by two men dressed in black, and is recruited to fly to the moon in a moon lander that was made “too small” for adults; the boy is told to say he is at summer camp on a scholarship during his training and flight, and the men have already prepared letters and pictures to send home in his absence.
 Several square miles in Houston are leveled of trees and dug up to build houses for NASA employees; at the groundbreaking, several men fire six-shooters into the ground instead of digging. A TV shows scenes of massive trash dumps and people wearing gas masks, while a narrator says that the environment is suffering.
 A boy rides in a NASA centrifuge, grimaces, and vomits a lot of brown goo; the frame freezes, the camera returns to the scene much later as the goo hits the wall again, and the scene ends as a man says, “Every astronaut upchucks.” A boy floats inside the “Vomit Comet” rocket trainer. A boy trains underwater in a bulky space suit, and learns to use a huge dashboard in simulators, even blindfolded. An alarm rings and a simulation is aborted, but a supervisor yells at the control room men for several seconds and tells them that the particular alarm is always to be ignored. A boy rides a lunar lander (LEM) up and down and lands safely, while we hear an astronaut almost died in this same training. A boy is strapped into a space capsule and launched into space as we hear loud roaring and see lots of smoke as the rocket lifts off. As we later watch the Apollo 11 launch and moon landing, we see flashbacks of the boy leaving Earth’s Orbit, landing on the moon manually, stepping on the surface and walking and jumping, returning to the LEM, and launching away again; we see him looking sad as he looks through an LEM window and a narrator says the boy will never be recognized for his mission.
 A man leads two boys to a brick wall, draws a circle each time on the wall, and makes each boy stand with his nose in the circle. A young boy kicks a kickball into the face of another boy, but no injury is seen. A boy is struck in the back with a baseball and falls on his face and the scene ends. A boy is struck by three baseballs thrown by boys who laugh, the victim falls, and the scene ends. A toddler lies on his back in a street, asleep; a car approaches and stops and a woman runs and picks up the toddler. Children make prank phone calls and slam down the receiver, and when their father gets a prank call, he blows a whistle loudly into the receiver. A man kicks a pinball machine and three men cheat by lifting the front of the machine with pieces of wood to make the surface flatter for higher scores.
 A mother makes her two young children chew rubber bands to keep them occupied. A young boy has to eat a soggy bologna sandwich. A teen girl gets her hair caught in electric mixer beaters and screams for several seconds; it takes three other young teens and preteens to loosen the hair. A boy’s siblings tell him he was adopted and therefore not in family photos and home movies; he trudges away in despair and anger. Six brothers and sisters argue frequently and the mother berates them while the father berates them twice as much; one scene includes two older girls sitting on the youngest boy, and another scene shows the oldest boy flicking the youngest boy in the ear with snapping fingers, followed by the youngest boy kicking toward and missing his tormentor. Two boys wrestle-fight angrily in a garage for a few seconds and the camera cuts away. Defective Popsicles freeze to kids’ tongues and they scream. We hear a boy has ringworm and see the circle of brown fungus on his head. Kids in an over-chlorinated pool suffer swollen, red eyes. Kids are covered with DDT mosquito spray as they ride their bikes.
 A late night TV show includes scenes of a clay golem said to be meant for murder and mayhem and then we hear it walked into the sea and disappeared. We see two men struggling briefly and see clips from “The Twilight Zone” and similar shows, and a clip of the “The Wizard of Oz” witch and her monkey army. Four children on an amusement park ride move through tunnels, snow, and a dark mine shaft with red lights where a Yeti-costumed worker rushes out and roars at them; the children scream and laugh.
 A man lies about his job at NASA telling his family that he is responsible for astronauts launching to the moon; his fourth-grade son and older siblings mock him and their mother angrily demands that they believe their father. A young boy goes to school and makes up stories about meeting space aliens for Show-and-Tell.

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood LANGUAGE 4

 – 5 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 9 mild obscenities, name-calling (squares, boring, hippy, hoodlums, redneck, white trash, Russkies, persistent liar, faker, crazy, pyromaniac, edgy, those people, paranoid, Grim Reaper, Smart Alec), exclamations (darn it, I swear, oh my gosh, jeez, wow, shut-up), 4 religious exclamations (e.g. oh my God, oh God, our prayers are that you return safely to Earth). | profanity glossary |

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood SUBSTANCE USE

 – A teen girl tells younger children that “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” means LSD. A man carrying a can of beer walks across the background in his living room, a man drinks a can of beer while driving two of his preteen children somewhere (he crushes the empty can and tosses it on the floorboards), a man at a party pours champagne for adults and teens and we see a woman and a teen boy and girl sip from their glasses while a bottle of champagne is shown in an ice bucket, and a man tells other men that they can have beers in a bar but the young boy they are training can only have Coke. Two women and two men smoke cigarettes at home and we see substantial cigarette and cigar smoke, a school secretary smokes around children, Janice Joplin smokes on TV, three scenes include dozens of NASA control room workers with ashtrays at their desks and we see lots of whirling smoke, and a teen boy wearing a Yeti costume removes the head and smokes a cigarette.

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood DISCUSSION TOPICS

 – American history of the 1960s-1970s, teen smoking and alcohol drinking, corporal punishment with heavy paddles, mean teachers, authoritarian fathers, lying to make oneself seem more important, the Space Race, the Vietnam War, protest riots, fear, danger, death, assassination, grief, gaining recognition, feeling left out.

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood MESSAGE

 – The Space Race and Cold War years in America were dynamic times of both fear and hope.


Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.

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