Rating: PG, 127 minutes
In a Nutshell: Based on true events, this uplifting film with a fantastic title shines the spotlight on some overlooked figures in history.
While the movie features new math that was invented in order to get the first man to the moon, it was really about these African-American women who struggled as second-class citizens during the Civil Rights movement and who were pivotal to the success of NASA’s space program.
The film sheds inspiring light on the space race and Jim Crow laws of the 1960’s, one that lifted mankind to new heights and one that pushed them down. This story was long overdue.
“You know what’s dangerous? Inaction and indecision.” – Jim Webb (Ken Strunk)
“Discovery is not just for the sake of discovery, but survival.” – Al Harrison (Kevin Costner)
“I looked beyond.” – Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae)
“We set sail on this new sea because there is knowledge to be gained.” – Al Harrison
“We all get to the peak together or we don’t’ get there at all.” – Al Harrison
Things I liked:
Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer truly light up the screen. All of their performances were stellar (pun intended, and true.)
Janelle Monae is absolutely fantastic as Mary Jackson and is a true stand-out. From the minute you first see her on the screen, she radiates intelligence and determination. Mary’s speech to the judge was outstanding. She has been in a few small movies since 2014, but I’m sure her career is going to really take off after this movie (yep, another intentional space pun.)
Pharell Williams does a great job blending the sound of the 60’s with music that sounds current to today’s audience. Click here if you'd like to relive the music: Hidden Figures: The Album
There is a lot of humor and heart.
You get to see real footage from historical NASA events during the film, as well as pictures of these three important women at the end of the movie.
When I was little, my father held a top position at Lockheed. I remember going to visit the company at a special event for families. They proudly showed off their computer room, which was filled with gigantic computers that stood from floor to ceiling. It’s hard to believe that we can now fit a computer on our cell phones and in even smaller spaces. How wonderful it is to live in the Information Age when knowledge is so easily obtainable.
They did a great job setting the 1960’s environment with rotary phones, typewriters, etc. Some of you young ones out there may have never seen those things before!
Written and directed by Ted Melfi, who is more than welcome to bring more inspring stories like this to the Big Screen.
John Glenn was considered a hottie of his day, appropriately played by Glen Powell.
Things I didn’t like:
I love award-winning Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory: Season 1, but his character pretty much just gave the stank face the entire time, not providing any big growth arc or allowing Jim to use his full talents.
Even if you were really good at math, you’re probably going to realize you’re not as smart as you thought you were.
Red tape and bureaucracy make me crazy. Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons’ characters epitomize all that is wrong with companies and organizations that have no vision or flexibility. That close-minded librarian just about made me want to scream when she said, “Well, that’s just the way it is.” I completely understand rules are designed for the benefit of all, but when they make no sense any more, they need to be changed.
Dorothy Vaughan steals a book from a library and gives a compelling speech to her kids about why it was ok. While you feel the sense of injustice that the “colored” section of the library didn’t contain as many good books to choose from, it certainly doesn’t mean stealing is ok.
There is a bit of reverse racism showing how all the white people are stupid and racist, while all the black people are brilliant and morally superior.
“Let me ask you: if you were a white male, would you wish to be an engineer?” – Senator Patrick (Wilbur Fitzgerald)
“I wouldn’t have to. I’d already be one.” – Mary Jackson
“There’s no protocol for women attending.” – Paul Stafford
“There’s no protocol for a man circling the earth either.” – Katherine Johnson
“Who makes the rules?” – Al Harrison
“You, Sir. You are the buss. You just have to act like one…Sir.” – Katherine
“The kids need to see this. Everybody needs to see this.” – Levi Jackson (Aldis Hodge)
“This IBM is gonna put us all out of work.” – Dorothy Vaughan
“Every time we get close to winning, they move the finish line.” – Mary Jackson
“Separate and equal are two different things.” – Dorothy Vaughan
“Yes, they let women work at NASA, Mr. Johnson. And it’s not because we wear skirts. It’s because we wear glasses.” – Dorothy Vaughan
“How can you be ogling these white men?” – Dorothy Vaughan
“It’s equal rights. I can see fine in any color.” – Mary Jackson
“Here at NASA, we all pee the same color.” – Al Harrison (Kevin Costner)
Tips for parents:
Yay math! This movie will make your case to your kids that math IS important and they should do their homework.
The film highlights racism in the United States in the 1960’s and uses terms like “Negro” and “colored.” They’ll see images of colored-only bathrooms and drinking fountains, as well as see how whites and blacks were separated on busses and in the court room.
Want to see more? If you want to learn more about the Civil Rights movement that took place in America in the 1950's and 60's, check out these VERY good movies:
Lee Daniels' The Butler