Movie Reviews: Akeelah And The Bee




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     Lions Gate (1 hr. 30 min.)
     A intelligent 11-year-old girl, from south Los Angeles is discovered to have a talent for words.
     Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, Keke Palmer, Curtis Armstrong, J.R. Villarreal
Bottom Line:

Laurence Washington

Keke Palmer stars as Akeelah Anderson, a precocious 11-year-old super-speller who can spell pulchritudinous quicker than you can say, "Contrived formula plot."

But that’s OK.

There’s nothing wrong with a constructed heartfelt up-from-the-hood drama in this era of no substance, violent and sexual films.

So here’s Akeelah and The Bee’s four-step plot:

Step one: Akeelah’s teachers discover she’s a prodigy.

Step two: Akeelah is entered into the national Spelling Bee.

Step three: Something dramatic happens and it looks like Akeelah might not be able to compete.

Step four: During the big contest, Akeelah and her arch-rival, another super-speller who has been to the nationals twice already, are the only spellers left. The end comes down to the pair having to spell one tough word.

Admittedly, there’s a little more meat to the plot than that. The film’s subplot involves Akeelah’s tutelage by soft-spoken Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne), who was a word wizard when he was a kid.

But Larabee also has a mysterious past that motivates him to help Akeelah hone her spelling skills despite the objections of her hard-working, single mother (Angela Bassett). Despite its obvious outcome, "Akeelah and The Bee" is inspirational and a great family film chalked full of sincere performances that hit all the right emotional notes.



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