This week’s match-up has the universally beloved Apollo 13 against the small, dark movie, Little Children. Let me just state from the beginning that I love both films very much and I already know this is going to be a difficult choice for me to make. Let’s get started.
Beginning with Apollo 13, this film was released in 1995 and was a huge success: grossing over $172 million domestically and receiving 9 Oscar nominations. Ron Howard directed this historical drama about America’s third Moon landing mission that went awry, with Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, and Ed Harris starring. When I think of Apollo 13 I think, what’s not to like about this film? It’s an important piece of American history and the film is incredibly suspenseful as the astronauts try to get home safely. I loved the separate story-lines between the astronauts, the control room in Houston, and the families glued to the television screens as the media covered the event. Needless to say, everything was very well done.
As for Little Children, it’s based off the Tom Perrotta novel about two lovelorn spouses from separate marriages in a small town, which includes a sex offender and a disgraced former police officer. The acting is superb with Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson leading the way, along with Jennifer Connelly, Jackie Earle Haley, and Noah Emmerich. With a cast this talented, it’s not a surprise they breathe life into every word from the Oscar-nominated screenplay. And although Todd Field has only directed two films in his career, those movies include In the Bedroom and Little Children, both very dark and very thought provoking in regards to intimacy and marriage.
These two movies are very hard to compare because they’re so different. Apollo 13 is a very uplifting, heartfelt film that will have you shedding happy tears at the end when the crew returns safely home. Those seconds of silence as the world is waiting to see if the heat shield holds up is excruciating. Little Children doesn’t have any of these moments. Instead, it’s a film that will keep you engaged in conversation for hours after it ends. It will bring up topics of morality, ethics, and real life discussion about pedophiles and the boundaries people flirt with when dealing with a dead-end marriage. It’s heavy-hitting material.
If we’re basing this off of the “which movie would I leave on if both were on TV” test, it would depend on what kind of mood I was in. If I were in the mood to watch a film that would make me question society’s view on broken marriages and second chances for offenders, Little Children would be the perfect film. But because Apollo 13 is more accessible, it would win that test the majority of the time. But I do feel that Little Children is a slightly better film all-around, especially if you take out Apollo 13’s special effects.
At the end of the day, it comes down to Apollo 13 being more enjoyable than Little Children. I still revisit Little Children every so often and highly recommend it to those who haven’t seen it, but Apollo 13 is close to a historical drama classic and it’s a film that’s tough to beat in any match-up. It has slightly more star-power and I’d rather talk about the success and fortunes of NASA than the trauma of unhappy people any day.
Winner: Apollo 13