A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
With determination and intelligence, you can overcome almost any obstacle. The women aren't afraid of being the "first" or the "only" (black) women in a room or on a team. Themes include communication, integrity, perseverance, and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Katherine, Mary, and Dorothy are wonderful role models. They all studied and worked hard and persevered in fields that few women -- much less women of color -- excelled in at the time. They're disciplined, intelligent women who think outside the box to brainstorm ideas and make themselves indispensable. They also shine as examples of pioneering working women who had families to take care of, too. And they don't let the obvious and overt racism they have to face stop them.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of kisses, some slow dancing, and an acknowledgement that men of all races can be handsome or "fine."
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"Damn," "hell," "bastard," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), and "Negro" are used. "Colored" is used to identify which restrooms, libraries, and even which coffee pot the African-American women can use.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult women drink in one scene and joke about getting a little tipsy.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hidden Figures is based on the inspiring true story of three brilliant African American women who worked at NASA in the 1950s and '60s as "human computers" -- making calculations and contributions that helped launch the manned spaceflight program. Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), and Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) were engineers and computers at NASA at a time when both women and African Americans were still widely discriminated against, particularly in segregationist Virginia. where NASA's Langley Research Center is based. There's a little bit of romance (a few kisses, flirty comments, and slow dancing) and a bit of salty language (mostly along the lines of "damn," "hell," and "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation). The film also offers a realistic look at the racial tensions of the Civil Rights era (segregated bathrooms, libraries, schools, facilities), and audiences will learn a lot about these pioneering women and what they had to overcome to make their mark at NASA. They're excellent role models, and their story is full of positive messages and themes, including integrity, perseverance, teamwork, and communication. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Henson, Spencer, and Monáe's stellar performances propel this feel-good biographical drama that teaches audiences about a little-known aspect of NASA's history. Many Civil Rights-era stories are understandably upsetting, showing the unflinchingly ugly institutional racism that African Americans had to endure. But Hidden Figures remains a crowd-pleaser because the main characters, while faced with insidious day-to-day discrimination (segregated bathrooms, offices, libraries, schools), don't endure the kind of horrific violence depicted in Selma. The three stars are all fantastic, with Henson clearly enjoying playing genius, widowed mother Katherine. Spencer is, as usual, spot on as the focused Dorothy, who's determined to make sure her group doesn't lose their jobs once the "real" computers arrive. And Monae impresses with another memorable supporting turn (she also shines in Moonlight). The movie's minor antagonists include Kirsten Dunst as Mrs. Michael, the head of all the human computers, who acts condescendingly toward Dorothy and her team, and Jim Parsons as task force supervisor Paul Stafford, who's unhappy that his boss wants all his figures checked by a black woman.
The friendship between the three leads is the heart of the story, but the action favors Katherine, who's working directly with the team that launches Glenn into orbit. Her extraordinary abilities as a mathematician earn her Al Harrison's trust, top-secret clearance, and a chance to be there when key decisions are made. Audiences may wonder what was fictionalized for the adaptation and whether Glenn was really as open-minded, gracious, and flirtatious as he's portrayed in the movie. Regardless of which details might be the result of a little creative license, the pre-credits tribute picturing the real Johnson, Vaughan, and Jackson make it clear that Hidden Figures is a story that needed to be told -- and it's told in a triumphant manner.
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