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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Keke Palmer
Laurence Fishburne
Angela Bassett
Curtis Armstrong.
Directors
Doug Atchison.
Screenwriters
Doug Atchison.
Running Time
113 minutes

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Akeelah And The Bee
Predictable but sweet kids movie about spelling.


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Plot
Eleven year-old African-American Akeelah (Palmer) thinks spelling is uncool until she starts to win spelling bee competitions. A grieving professor, Dr. Larabee (Fishburne), helps train her for the national finals, but conflicts with her overworked mother threaten to interfere


Review
Akeelah And The Bee

The first product on the Starbucks Entertainment production line, this confection is as sugary, formulaic and all-American as you’d expect. And while US critics have gobbled it up with gusto, British audiences may find it harder to swallow — at least at first.
 
Young Akeelah’s character is drawn with broad strokes, her needs spelt out as painstakingly as the words that get her off the streets and into schooling. Many scenes, such as her sessions with the bereaved Dr. Larabee (a sleepwalking Fishburne), appear functional rather than inspirational: the film only inspires when Akeelah takes to the stage for the spelling bees.
 
There, the suspense is palpable despite the certainty of the outcome, and the kind of affectionate, geeky-kid humour that characterised the superior Spellbound edges into the picture. There’s sweetness in Akeelah’s friendship with fellow speller Javier, and credibility in the character of Chinese-American Dylan, whose strict father coaches him privately. Considering the multi-racial nature of the contests, though, the film plays the race card a little too heavily. “You goin’ up against a bunch of rich white kids — they gonna tear yo’ black ass up,” states Akeelah’s brother. Somewhat inaccurate on both counts.


Verdict
There’s charm in this simple underdog tale, but clunky plotting and characterisation mean it has ‘telemovie’ written all over it. You’d be better off renting Spellbound instead.


Reviewed by Anna Smith

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Empire Star Rating

Akeelah and the Bee Review

Although predictable in every way, a winning performance from its young star Keke Palmer and the rest of the cast makes it difficult not to cheer for the little heroine of Akeelah and the Bee. Sort of like Rocky for the middle school nerd set, Akeelah is a warm, family-friendly underdog story, featuring terrific supporting performances from Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 08:58, 10 May 2012 | Report This Post


Akeelah and the Bee Review

Although predictable in every way, a winning performance from its young star Keke Palmer and the rest of the cast makes it difficult not to cheer for the little heroine of Akeelah and the Bee. Sort of like Rocky for the middle school nerd set, Akeelah is a warm, family-friendly underdog story, featuring terrific supporting performances from Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 08:58, 10 May 2012 | Report This Post


Akeelah

Cute, smart, family entertainment. Solid message and solid performances. Keke Palmer is very good. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 04:46, 22 July 2008 | Report This Post


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