If you are a Starbucks drinker, you may have noticed they are currently promoting a movie called Akeelah and the Bee, starring Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, and, most importantly, newbie Keke Palmer. Next time you go to buy your grande mocha latte ccappuccino frappuccino double shot, you may want to pick up a copy - or at least put it on your Netflix list.
Akeelah and the Bee is about a young girl in an inner city school who has a natural gift when it comes to spelling words - so much so that some of her "mentors" believe she can compete in and possibly win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. At the age of 12, she is hesitant to compete because she feels everyone will make fun of her - after all, you've seen those kids who compete in Spelling Bees, with their eyes twitching, their stress levels through the roof and their psychotic parents rooting them on. Nevertheless, she takes on a teacher (Fishburne) to help her learn what she needs to know beyond pure memorization, such as what roots the words came from, et cetera, et cetera. Eventually, all her training leads up to the big, nationally-televised event.
Akeelah and the Bee may sound like a boring movie, but it is anything but. Fueled by Palmer's energetic performance, the movie merges junior high entertainment with serious drama and high stakes competition. The result is a highly entertaining story that rarely falters in its delivery.
Akeelah and the Bee is a must see for younger people and highly recommended for adults. This is one of those rare feel-good movies that doesn't lay on the cheese in mass quantities, if at all.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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