Today sees not one but two new Netflix original movies debut. Both are fun, in very distinct ways.
Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood has an odd title, and probably doesn’t look all that appealing from its poster of an animated boy in a spacesuit.
But when you have Richard Linklater directing, the man behind the likes of Dazed and Confused, Boyhood and Everybody Wants Some!!, you know you’re in for something special.
Apollo 10½ shares a number of themes with Linklater’s other works.
Set in the late 1960s, Apollo 10½ is a movie full of nostalgia and wistfulness that gives the same sense of gravity and celebration to big historical moments as it does to the memories of childhood.
It depicts the era as hopeful and exciting in its time of great change, as seen through the eyes of the youngest son of a large family.
He and his siblings share quirky habits as they get on in life, free of insecurity or doubt, revelling as they play games with the neighbours, ogle at the latest movie in the cinema, or watch television together.
Aesthetically, the film is particularly interesting is it was shot in live-action and subsequently animated through a rotoscoping technique.
There can be uncanny moments to it, such as when recognisable actors such as Glen Powell and Zachary Levi, show up – but generally, it works effectively and neatly complements the nostalgic lens.
Jack Black’s dulcet tones narrate the majority of the film (as the adult version of our protagonist), his soothing Southern accent guiding us through the story.
Apollo 10½ is a charming movie full of heart and humour, that is less about space exploration than it is a love letter to childhood, family, and the idiosyncrasies of the 1960s.
In the other camp is a totally different Netflix feature. The Bubble is a comedy about a group of actors and filmmakers attempting to shoot the sixth instalment of action franchise Cliff Beasts, but hampered by various pandemic-related delays.
It’s directed by the comedic genius that is Judd Apatow, who we haven’t seen a movie from for a while (bar the so-so King of Staten Island).
Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann collaborates with the director again, and his daughter, Iris Apatow, stars too.
Joining them are Karen Gillan, Pedro Pascal, Fred Armisen, David Duchovny and Keegan-Michael Key, plus a bunch of fun cameos that I won’t spoil here.
Their characters are, for the most part, selfish, obnoxious actors and other members of the movie industry.
They simply can’t comprehend why the world isn’t revolving around them amidst this global crisis.
The film is a bit too long, but there are tons of stupidly funny moments from Apatow and Pam Brady’s script.
It may be a low bar, but the majority of comedies made today are painfully unfunny, so when you find one that actually makes you laugh out loud (on quite a few occasions), surely that’s commendable.