An inspirational drama, Akeelah and the Bee is the story of Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer), a precocious eleven-year-old girl from south Los Angeles with a gift for words. Despite the objections of her mother Tanya (Angela... more » Bassett), Akeelah enters various spelling contests, for which she is tutored by the forthright Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne); her principal Mr. Welch (Curtis Armstrong) and the proud residents of her neighborhood. Akeelah?s aptitude earns her an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and in turn unites her neighborhood who witness the courage and inspiration of one amazing little girl.« less
Shonessi T. (Shonessi) from OMAHA, NE Reviewed on 3/9/2018...
Excellent movie, I was cheering for Akeelah the entire movie! Love it!
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Christine F. from MINNEAPOLIS, MN Reviewed on 9/16/2013...
loved the movie
Alice B. from SANDY, UT Reviewed on 6/11/2013...
This movie is an excellent Family Feature Film. Akeelah is from a poor home, but has a gift for spelling words. Laurence Fishburne, a professor as well as her principal and neighbors tutor her in spelling and she goes to the national spelling bee to compete. A great film for any age! Akeelah makes it to the national spelling bee to compete against a wealthy boy who has had a;all the advantages in life can she win against him?
Shannon W. Reviewed on 1/14/2013...
I may be the only one who did not like this movie. I was only able to watch half of it.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Buck L. (Suntydt) from TAZEWELL, TN Reviewed on 5/11/2012...
Very entertaining movie. Really enjoyed Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishburne.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Denice B. Reviewed on 12/6/2011...
It was a really good movie. Recommended for 5th grade to adults. Two thumbs up.
Courtney B. (bergcourtney) from BIXBY, OK Reviewed on 9/8/2010...
I really enjoyed this movie. It was well scripted, cast, and delivered. It's a heart warming story of what it looks like when someone steps outside themselves to find the good in someone else, and how lives can change when you do! Excellent story of achievement through hard work and determination.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Karen A. from DENVER, CO Reviewed on 7/4/2010...
This is a triumphant tale about inner city schools, grief, loss and rebuilding lives. A definite keeper.
Duane S. (superpoet) from FORT WORTH, TX Reviewed on 12/20/2007...
I loved this movie as I was a pretty good speller myself. This is a family movie and I would give it a G rating. Keke Palmer and Laurence Fishburne have totally captured the essence of their characters. Some of the affirmations that the professor (Laurence) gives Keke are ones you would want your chldrent to have.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
You have nothing to fear but fear itself.
K A Goode | Nashville, TN | 05/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having just returned from this movie at midnight, well after my normal bedtime, I am encouraged. This movie is not just about spelling bees, albieit interesting to me; as I love spelling.
It is more about finding out for yourself who you are and what you are capable of, there will always be issues associated with race, class and a laundry list of other things but what matters more than those things is H-E-A-R-T and where you choose to put yours. This film is very much about realizing that in spite of all things we must find a cause and dig in deeply until we have satisfied our quest. Life rewards action, make careful decisions and act!
The choices that we make today have a long reaching impact and recognizing that this film should remind people that life is not a spectator sport; It's meant to be interactive. Whatever it takes, find out who you are and what you are made of in spite of your fears. You'll be surprised who and what you find on the other side of fear.
"I'll brook no nonsense!"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Akeelah And the Bee is so warm and heart-wrenching, so full of power and emotion that you can forgive the film for being formulaic and deliberately tugging at the heartstrings. Featuring a truly bravura performance by the young Keke Palmer is Akeelah, this film is one of the best feel-good family movies to come along in years and certainly one of the best films of 2006.
Akeelah (Palmer) is an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Crenshaw Middle School in South Los Angeles, she's bright - she even aces all the class spelling tests - but she has a bit of an attitude problem, partly caused by the unmotivated feeling of those around her, and the idea that to be intelligent is not considered "cool."
But deep down Akeelah loves words and it's something she shared with her late father. Avella's mom, Tanya (Angela Bassett), is too busy trying to keep her life and family together to pay much attention. She has one young son flirting with being a gangbanger and another son is doing well in the Air Force, so Tanya just doesn't want to be bothered with what she views as the foolishness of spelling competitions.
Spurred on by the school principal (Curtis Armstrong) Akeelah is encouraged to enter the Crenshaw school spelling bee, even though she doesn't really want to do it. She of course wins, and but she's going to need help if she wants to make it through other contests. She finds a mentor in the somber Dr. Larabee (Lawrence Fishburne) who is on sabbatical from his position as chairman of the UCLA English department and has a lot of time on his hands.
From the outset these two very different people are destined to clash. He views her as insolent; and she sees no reason to be interested in the broader cultural education he wants her to master in addition to spelling. However, they soon warm to each other and Akeelah immerses herself in the world of spelling where she meets fellow contestants Javier (J.R. Villarreal) is a gregarious Latino with supportive parents and the mechanical Dylan (Sean Michael Afable) who is being pressured to win the Bee by his humorless and stern Asian American father.
Will Akeelah make it to the National Spelling Bee in Washington? And will Tanya eventually come around and support her daughter's efforts? The evolving relationship between Akeelah and her mentor forms the core of this movie, as Dr. Larabee tries to temper Akeelah's fears.
But the biggest surprise comes at the end where writer-director Doug Atchison surprisingly deviates from the tried and true formula. The outcome depends not on who will win the bee, necessarily - but on the moral and ethical choices that our young heroine makes.
Atchison occasionally piles on the melodrama a bit thick, but he gets away with it because his cast is so good, especially the young Keke Palmer, who should indeed get an Oscar nomination for this. You expect nothing but emotional truth and top-notch performances from Fishburne and Bassett, but it's the young Palmer who wins your heart with a feat of acting that's so completely honest and free of affectation. Mike Leonard August 06. "
I'm a sucker for a good montage sequence
My Uncle Stu | Boston | 07/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
There are too few good family films around these days. Some of the kid's movies peddled by the major studios are okay, but they mostly try to appeal to adults by being saturated with snarky in-jokes and cultural references that only adults would get. I guess we are suppose to giggle demurely when the writers throw us a little treat right over our children's heads. They then try to appeal to kids with flatulence humor (which I'm all for by the way), by completely overpowering their senses, and, of course, the melodramatically enhanced death of a parent, which I guess is suppose to hook the young viewers by setting up some sort of repetition compulsion.
Akeela and the Spelling Bee is a breath of fresh air. It is a beautiful story that focuses on a young girl gaining confidence and a sense of mastery through working hard, using her natural gifts, and an impressive display of resilience. There are good messages in the film. Every character set up to be a villain is ultimately redeemed by Akeela's unflappable grace and inability to be seduced by thoughts of retribution. You do have the death of a parent as part of the backstory, but it is not played up in that manipulative lets-traumatize-the-children Disney style. It is there as a necessary part of explaining Akeela's character and the complexities in her bond with her coach.
And, you get montage sequences of Akeela cramming for the spelling bee. Not just one, but three. I always love that in a movie, when the music starts and you just see brief clips of the character studying in various settings. Many is the time in my own life that I gutted through exam preparation by dissociating to my own little montage sequence.
Some critics have focused on clichés in the movie. But they are not clichés to little kids who haven't spent the bulk of their time deconstructing cinema. And they aren't clichés to parents who can make a vicarious, playful connection with their kids and just take the movie at face value. In the end, your kids will love this movie and, if you let yourself get swept into it, you too will find yourself both inspired and entertained."
Maybe I Need to Watch More "Kid's Movies"
Tome Raider | California, United States | 07/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I took my six-year-old to see this at the theater today. I thought it might inspire her to become more interested in word structure and spelling. Wow, I bet it did that and more! I would be willing to say that this movie has a good chance of being life-altering for any kid who goes into it with the slightest curiosity or interest. There are great performances by all, and important principles are illustrated without the slightest trace of preachiness.
This movie shows an extremely nice fatherless young girl overcome a variety of adverse circumstances and push herself to her limit. This is a great film about self-discipline and dedication and taking the risks necessary to achieve personal greatness. Be it spelling, bicycling, piano, ballet or soccer, this film spells out the formula for accomplishment. I think your kids will pick up on the lesson, it penetrates invitingly. It also shows kids being very nice to one another, before biases and social classes have hardened and divided us.
This film was not at all preachy, but it really highlights the tangible nature of some of the disadvantages facing our kids in poorer communities. There are kids in those areas with tremendous academic talent and a willingness to work to accomplish big things. America should be a country where every kid who desires to achieve, and is willing to work hard to do so, receives a fair shot at that on a level playing field. Akeelah got some help from her friends here--and a dedicated school pricipal--but I fear that in real life there may be some Akeelahs falling through the cracks.
An English professor played by Laurence Fishbourne was one of the breaks Akeelah got here. I liked it that he gave her no slack, no "affirmative action" for her hardships. He held the bar very high and expected a lot ffrom her in every way, and she rose to the occasion. And, during his teaching of her, he healed a few of his old wounds as well. I was kind of hoping that he would hook up with Akeelah's mom, or at least a hint that that was going to happen, because that would have been perfect.
This was a very sweet and entertaining movie, and I have to tell you I left the theater a little teary-eyed. The friendly little Hispanic kid who goes out of his way to befriend Akeelah will obviously be a cult figure for decades. His playful good naturedness is an example for all of us. This movie struck the absolute right tone on several themes of social importance, and I think good ole Starbucks has to be congratulated on a great debut into the movie biz.
I saw the Disney movie "Eight Below" earlier this week and it also just blew me away, and so I'm now going to start paying a lot more attention to these movies intended for younger audiences!! These both were much better than the movies intended for my age bracket!"
Go See This Film Already!
thornhillatthemovies.com | Venice, CA United States | 05/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After watching the new film "Akeelah and the Bee", I told two of my friends with daughters about the same age as the title character they had to see this film. One of my friends said his daughters didn't want to see it. They thought it looked boring. Well, there are no flying wizards in the film, but "Akeelah and the Bee" is a very good film, something everyone should see. Especially children in the same age bracket as the spelling dynamo.
"Akeelah and the Bee" is a great film for everyone in the entire family. I defy you, or anyone you see this film with to not be moved by the story.
Akeelah (Keke Palmer), a student at Crenshaw Middle School, in South Los Angeles, is bored with her school. Her teachers recognize her intelligence; she gets good grades, but her attendance and attitude are lacking. The school hosts its first Spelling Bee and the Principal (Curtis Armstrong) insists Akeelah participate. After she trounces the competition, she attracts the attention of Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne), a professor on sabbatical and former contestant in the National Spelling Bee who agrees to coach Akeelah. But her mother (Angela Bassett) is too distracted to notice her daughter is going to the City Spelling Bee and then the Regionals. Soon, Akeelah has the entire community rooting for her and helping her, pushing her to win the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC.
Yes, the film is predictable and, at times, a little sappy. But the performance of Keke Palmer as Akeelah quickly makes you forget about the few problems the film has. Akeelah is like many middle school students; afraid to show how intelligent she is because she will be teased by other students, she purposely dumbs herself down in public situations. This is unfortunate, but it happens. When she receives an `A' on a spelling test, she quickly hides the paper, afraid some of the mean girls will find out. She doesn't want to participate in the school's Bee because she wants to remain under the radar. Sure enough, at the Bee, two girls stand in back and heckle Akeelah. So far, we are really talking about a TV Movie of the Week caliber performance. Then we learn more about Akeelah. We learn about her relationship with her mother and father, her older brothers, how she challenges herself at home, why she does this. She has to put up a front to survive in the school and the area where she lives. But at home, she is free to play Scrabble against a computer, or to study flash cards. Also, we soon learn why she isn't the best student and it all makes sense. She is a complicated young lady and Palmer does a great job of making her believable. It is a very good performance from someone so young.
Fishburne is the other major character, and he is very good. There is a lot resting below the surface of Dr. Larabee. As he reluctantly decides to coach the young lady, he admonishes her against using slang and ghetto talk. As soon as he says this, and she realizes he is serious, she effortlessly begins using proper English. But why does he seem to have a grudge against the community where he lives? As they move forward with the coaching, Larabee becomes more withdrawn, and eventually tells Akeelah that he has done all he can, giving his young prot?g? a feeling of abandonment. She is confused and doesn't feel like continuing. Then Akeelah's mom (Angela Bassett) pays a visit and learns more about his reasons. Both Akeelah and Dr. Larabee have had very similar experiences, leading to their respective attitudes. When you realize the reasons behind Larabee's behavior, it suddenly all makes sense. His character has many layers and part of the journey is unraveling them.
Bassett has, perhaps, the most difficult role. She is a single mom, trying to keep track of a son who is getting mixed up with gangs. When Akeelah comes home and announces that she will be going to the National Spelling Bee, her mom is concerned about her school work. Because of the previous attendance problem, Akeelah is told she has to go to summer school. This is all her mom can process, she can't even realize Akeelah has a chance to win a NATIONAL SPELLING BEE; she doesn't even have the chance to process what this is. When she finally realizes her daughter might win this contest, her reaction is very natural. She doesn't immediately gush and become a doting mother; she is initially hurt her daughter lied to her. Once she reconciles this, she helps and encourages her daughter.
The performances are good because they convey what life is like for these characters without falling into stereotypes. Yes, they live in a drug and gang filled area, but Akeelah's mom works as a nurse, and struggles with her oldest son. Akeelah is smart, but can't show it too much at school, if she wants to remain "normal". Dr. Larabee lives in the community he has lived all his life, despite some problems. Each of the actors provides a vivid portrayal of a three dimensional character.
As she begins to study for the Bee, she also meets other people outside of her community. She becomes friends with Javier (J.R. Villareal), a student from Woodland Hills who placed 13th in the previous year's National Bee. As their friendship grows, she spends more time with him and his family, traveling to the more affluent suburb, recognizing how lacking her neighborhood and school are. At one point, she says "Why would I want to represent the school I hate?" We soon learn she has a poor attendance record and problems in school because she is bored, not because she is dumb. Because she is bored, she has no motivation.
Generally, in a film like this, you can predict the outcome. But the filmmakers have managed to throw a nice little twist into the final scene, making it all the more interesting, exciting and emotional.
My one complaint for the film is the production quality is a little low. Clearly, the film was made on an independent budget and, at times, looks like it would be more at home as a Television Movie of the Week. Compare this film to the recent "Bee Season" which is also about a young lady going to the National Spelling Bee, and you will see two films that look very different. "Season" was produced by a major production company and looks like a big studio film; glossy, perfectly lit, beautiful. "Akeelah" is a bit duller looking and doesn't appear as polished. This is a small complaint and I only make it because it is unfair to "Akeelah", the better film. More money was probably spent on Richard Gere's salary for "Season" than the entire budget of "Akeelah". That's a shame, because the message of "Akeelah" is so much more universal, uplifting and encouraging.
Take everyone you know to see "Akeelah and the Bee". You will all enjoy it and the film might just help someone get past a hurdle they have been struggling with for a long time. "