Hidden Figures - A Radio Buffet 3-minute Critic Movie Review

Hidden Figures: If Disney Made A Movie About The Space Race and Civil Rights (2 Stars)

by Eric Willuweit @eswillow72

I had high expectations going into Hidden Figures. Or maybe to put it better, I had different expectations of what this movie was going to be like. Please keep that in mind as to my perspective heading into the movie and the review I am about to share. You may find this movie to be the uplifting, feel-good story you were looking for, and my opinion shouldn't change that. HOWEVER.............

Hidden Figures tells the story of three African-American women who played vital, behind the scenes roles during the era of the space race with Russia. Specifically, calculating the math for the mission to put astronaut John Glenn and the Mercury capsule Friendship 7 into Earth's orbit and back home. The backdrop of their stories is that it was taking place during the civil rights movement of the 60s, and dealing with many of the racial and segregation issues they had to endure while contributing to the cause at NASA.

The problem is not with the acting of the main characters. Taraji P Henson(Katherine Johnson), Octavia Spencer(Dorothy Vaughan) and Janelle Monae(Mary Jackson) all deliver great performances in their roles, especially Henson as the lead heroine role of mathematician Johnson.

That said, most of the characters are given very 1-dimensional roles, and/or their characters aren't very richly developed. In this movie, you will find there are good people and bad people, and the movie goes out of its way to tell you who is who. They don't leave any room for in between. So when you're trying to tell a story about the space race from the perspective of 3 black women in NASA, I guess the director(Theodore Melfi) felt he had it dumb it down for the audience. I was annoyed at this aspect of the film. You will notice the drawn-out, incredulous looks on every white man and white woman as these three ladies enter ANY room in NASA. I didn't know in 1961 that white people in Virginia had never seen a black person before.

I also felt the casting of Jim Parsons as lead researcher Paul Stafford(aforementioned bad person) was horrible. I would have felt better if he broke out into his Sheldon Cooper character from the Big Bang Theory and yelled "BAZINGA!" Instead, we get Parsons giving exasperated looks on his face when he disapproves of anything Johnson tries to do in her role. As for others in the supporting cast, Kevin Costner was good, not great in the role of Al Harrison(mostly good person). Same can be said for Kirsten Dunst in her role as Vivian Michael(bad person).

As stated above, if your wish is to see a movie from a light-hearted, uplifting perspective, then you will probably enjoy this movie. It definitely has it's entertaining moments. However, if you are looking for a movie with a little more depth, given the subject matter and the era of our country at that time, then you might be disappointed, as I was. I give Hidden Figures 2 Stars.

- Eric Willuweit

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