Akeelah and The Bee

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Starring: Keke Palmer, Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett
Directed By: Doug Atchinson
Rated: PG for mild language
Review Posted: April 29th, 2006

Final Grade:

I once met someone who once said, “The only thing more boring than a movie about a spelling bee is actually watching a real spelling bee.” If there is truth to that statement, why have we seen so many spelling bee films in the last few years. Akeelah and the Bee is another spelling bee film, checking in quite late in the race for churning out spelling bee films. Does Akeelah bring anything new to the table? Guess you’ll have to keep reading and find out!

Akeelah is a young girl who lives in a suburban neighborhood. Her mother is always at work, her brother is on his way to being on an episode of cops and she attends a school that’s so poor it can barely afford books let alone bathroom stall doors in the women’s bathroom. Akeelah has a hidden talent though, she can memorize and spell words like no one else. When a teacher convinces her to try out for the National Spelling Bee, Akeelah is paired up with a gruff, recluse Spelling Coach named Dr. Larabee (Larry Fishburne). Much to her mother’s disapproval, Akeelah continues her quest to make it to and win the national spelling bee.

This movie may have been one of the cutest, family friendly films I have seen in a while. It’s got everything for the makings of a good movie. The story flows quickly from point to point, and while predictable is a complete joy to watch. Akeelah is a lovable girl and the bond she creates with Dr. Larabee is inspiring. The script is well written, the dialog is believable and not too cheesy. It’s just a great family flick.

Fishburne plays the role of the teacher who learns he needs Akeelah just as much as she needs him and to a perfect tee. He plays role with grace, not over acting but instead complimenting the film with just the right amount of subtlety. The real star of the show is Keke Palmer, who plays young Akeelah, the little girl from the ghetto who inspires everyone she meets.

I could go on and on about this film, but instead I’m going to make it short and sweet, so I don’t give too much away. Go check it out. Yes, that’s right support a Spelling Bee movie. I love the good old action and violence flicks as much as everyone else, but maybe that’s what’s wrong with America today. Akeelah and the Bee can make Spelling look fun. In a world where the crime rate is rising and the literacy rate is falling each year, maybe a film like this is good for the masses. Don’t miss out on this one. It’s a great little inspirational piece that’s meant to ensure a good time is had by all.

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