Here we have the latest from the great Richard Linklater, who makes it obvious that this is a passion project based on his credits for the film. Altogether, Linklater is the writer, director, and producer here, along with the story being loosely based on his life, growing up in Houston, Texas. This not only meant living nearby NASA Johnson Space Center but being there for the first moon landing in 1969.
Now, of course, this isn't the first film he has all these credits for. But it's something you can tell he holds near and dear to his heart. This is him showing us his own nostalgia for growing up in the late 60s. He shows us what it was like to be a kid back then, and it's the perfect answer to the question of what kids did before the internet, video games, and other luxuries we completely take for granted nowadays. And quite honestly, the movie is mostly the unfolding of his childhood as opposed to anything to really do with NASA, space, and the rest of it.
It's more of a nostalgia trip framed with a childhood fantasy about being part of a top-secret test mission to the moon before the actual '69 moon landing. It's sort of a weird section of the movie that plays out as though it's real, but it's all this boy, Stan's (Milo Coy and Jack Black when narrating) fantasy. Otherwise, the movie is simply about what it was like to grow up in that time. To make it more interesting, it's all done in the same animation style as one of my personal favourites of his, 'Waking Life' (animation sketched over live-action).
Now, I will say this about Linklater's material - it may be considered an acquired taste to some. I find a lot of his overall style to be very artsy while trying to get it across to your average Joe. 'Dazed and Confused' is probably the most relatable of his work, overall, as it's more of a high school film than an art project. 'Waking Life' or 'Boyhood' would be the other side of that scale. This can be found right in between those two films. But don't worry, it's not as "out there" as 'Waking Life' was. This is, quite plain and simply, Linklater showing us childhood in the late 60s, and as long as you're open to hearing his stories, you can enjoy this just fine.
Personally speaking, I was of two minds on this one. For starters, I appreciated how he brought us back in time and shared his nostalgia with us. I further appreciate the art style (I do love this type of animation), and the minute details he gets into with his descriptions. On the other hand, while I liked the storytelling, the whole NASA fantasy that he has felt sort of unnecessary. I do get it, and perhaps I'm nitpicking, but I might have liked it better if it was just the nostalgic story, and left relatively basic. He's exposed to NASA enough that the title would still make sense.
Anyway, I'm gonna say right off the bat that if you're a Linklater fan, it's worth checking out. It's a pretty fascinating look back, especially when we see things we consider old that is brand new at the time. Think of there being arcades, but the only machines there are of the pinball variety. It's a cool slice of history, and I can't help but appreciate the fact that Linklater tells it through the child's eyes. He does so without talking down to his audience and even educates us on a few things here and there. I really liked this, and I think it will appeal to anyone who grew up in that era, along with anyone looking to find out "what was it like back then?"
Leave a Reply.