Hidden Figures, rated PG
Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Mahershala Ali, Glen Powell
Austin Family Critical Rating: 4 ½ of 5 stars
Austin Family Family-Friendly Rating: 4 ½ of 5 stars
Hidden Figures is a wildly inspirational, true story that deserves its big-screen treatment. The film follows Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), three African-American mathematicians who break barriers at NASA in the 1960s by, among many other accomplishments, helping send John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit.
The main treat of Hidden Figures is the cast. Henson, Spencer and Monae are spectacular as the three leads, while Kevin Costner does excellent work as Al Harrison, their supervisor. Mahershala Ali, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons round out a truly excellent ensemble. (They’re all nominated for the Best Ensemble prize, in fact, at this year’s Screen Actors Guild awards.) Of considerable note is Austin’s own Glen Powell, who does a terrific job playing John Glenn. He was outstanding in Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! earlier this year, and he caps off an amazing year with his performance here.
But what truly sets the film apart is its perspective. We’ve seen some of the events here before, in films like The Right Stuff (1983), but never from the viewpoint of these women, who overcame great odds to contribute so much to America’s space program. The movie is both a tribute to their work and a very entertaining picture in its own right.
This is also the rare Oscar-season film that’s rated PG, and I’d say it’s appropriate for most age groups. (I’d recommend it to viewers 7 and older.) Take advantage of this opportunity, and share this important story with your family.
Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.