Movie 411: Hidden Figures

Directed by:

Theodore Melfi (Saint Vincent)

Screenplay by:

Allison Schroeder (Mean Girls) and Theodore Melfi



Release Date: 

December 2016


History, Drama

The Hook:

NASA! And “based on actual events.”


Three strong women of color are employed at the prestigious NASA during the Space Race of the Cold War. Having the brains and determination to get themselves there, they face unique challenges because they are intelligent, African-American, and female in a mostly dominated male profession. Their story demonstrates the strength these women had to not only get to the top of their respective field but to gain the respect of their peers in a time when civil rights were challenged and when the role women played were questioned.

The Review

I must admit. This movie wasn’t on my radar on my list of must-see movies. It was one of those “what movie shall I watch. Oh, this one looks okay” kind of nights and this was the pick. And I am glad to have watched it!

The Plot . . .


What a story! When watching this movie, I couldn’t help thinking about all those sports movies in which the underdog prevails at the end. You know what I’m talking about. Not only sports movies, but basically any movie where the main character is snubbed only to knock-it-to-them in the end. This movie was just like those movies except in the field of math and science. I love it! You get to see a little bit of the behind the scenes of NASA, or at least a fictional-maybe-a-bit-exaggerated behind the scenes, and the different departments that helped NASA operate. And it’s not your typical day at NASA either. You’ve got the backdrop of the Space Race to set the mood, tension, and plot.

The story is great for film and even better that it’s based on a book, HiddenFigures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margaret Lee Shetterly.

It was good to see these women get recognized and it amazed me at what they did during the time they lived in. Simply amazing. I’m not sure whether the story was good because it was based on actual events or because their story made it to the big screen and a wider audience. As with all movies tied to real world possibilities, it may not be completely accurate, but it gets people thinking and asking questions.

. . . and Presentation


Well done. I haven’t read the book or thumbed through it either, but to translate a non-fiction read into an entertaining and inspiring movie script takes a certain finesse and Melfi delivers. He unpacks the story in an easy to follow narrative and adds humor, tension, and seriousness in all the right places.

I enjoyed the energy and humor Octavia Spencer (Dorothy) brought to The Help and she does an excellent job with Dorothy’s character as well. Acting with her were Taraji Hensen (Katherine) and Janelle Monae (Mary), whom I have never seen before. They do an excellent job adding to the on-screen chemistry among friends who are taking on NASA. The supporting characters of Kevin Costner (Al), Jim Parsons (Paul), and Kirsten Dunst (Vivian) helped move the story along and worked well with the dynamics of the story and of the leading actresses.

The Verdict

A really great movie to watch. If only once. It’s a great story so that itself is worth giving it a go. As much as I enjoyed this movie, I don’t think I’d add it to my library. Everyone loves it when the underdog rallies back and actually knock the smug smile off the faces of those who questioned, mocked, and/or humiliated. While mostly everyone. At least I do anyway. But it’s not the kind of movie that I would go to whenever I’m stumped on what to watch, you know? It’s that movie you watch when a group of you are trying to decide on a movie. Not really something I’d say “Oh hey, I want to watch this movie.” To me it’s the kind of movie to share with others and not really keep to yourself.

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