Monday, January 9, 2017

Hidden Figures - Movie Review

Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge and Glen Powell.
Written by Allison Schroeder & Ted Melfi.
Directed by Ted Melfi.


It's a credit to this movie that we're never bored spending this much screentime staring at vast mathematical equations on chalkboards.

This film covers the true story of three African-American women at NASA who had to overcome discrimination so they could help get a man into space. Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) is the genius at analytical geometry; Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) is the programmer who figures out FORTRAN faster than anyone else on site; Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) is the engineer who should already be promoted.

Jim Crow laws are alive and well in Viriginia, 1961, and the movie deals with many of the issues these women had to face. When Katherine is moved to the main calculations room, she has to deal with the fact that the closest restroom for colored ladies is a half-mile away on campus. And on the second day of work, she finds a smaller coffee pot with the label "colored" has been placed next to the big main pot everyone else drinks out of.

I liked the light-hearted family-friendly approach to this material. Serves as a history lesson, but it's also just good entertainment. Strong support comes from Kevin Costner as the straightforward NASA boss, Jim Parsons as the office jerk, and Mahershala Ali as a colonel come courtin' for Katherine's affections.

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