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Entries in Hidden Figures [2016] CAP (1)


Hidden Figures (2016)

There's much to learn from the story of three African-American women who helped make NASA's Apollo 11 moon flight a reality, but Hidden Figures is a lousy starting point. Not having read Margot Lee Shetterly's book of the same name, I can only assume it has to be better than the technically well-executed but narratively inauthentic sub-Hallmark drama cooked up by co-writer/director Theodore Melfi. As the ensemble's ostensible lead, Taraji P. Henson plays Katherine G. Johnson's three disparate personalities well (mousy math nerd, empowered activist-in-bloom, blushing sexpot), but her character is impossible to pin down from scene to scene. Combine that with dialogue that is almost exclusively, gushingly self-aware and backwards-looking ("Three negro women are chasing a white police officer down the highway in Hampton, Virginia--1961!"), and you get an amalgam of seventh-grade history class memes, not a movie. This story needed to be told, but told better.

Listen to Kicking the Seat Podcast  #180 to hear a stellar discussion of Hidden Figures (and Bad Santa 2, for some reason)!