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Movie Review: Akeelah and the Bee

Monday, May 08, 2006
We went to the theater yesterday and saw the movie Akeelah and the Bee, brought to us by Starbucks Entertainment (praise be to the gods of merchandising!)

The story focuses on a talented young girl from the shady side of Los Angeles who's bright, talented, and unchallenged. She finds comfort in spelling (and Scrabble) and is persuaded (through a series of events) to enter her school's spelling bee, where she is led on a path to the national spelling bee while being coached by Laurence Fishburne.

All in all I enjoyed the movie, despite the fact that the supporting characters weren't written very well and the movie was a ham-fisted conglomeration of cliches. Nonetheless, being significantly older than the target audience I can overlook these flaws. The messages were wholesome and more or less appropriate for the whole family: anyone can achieve; achievement is a good thing; always do your best, etc. Young Keke Palmer, who played Akeelah, did a fantastic job and brought some livelyness to the film.

As I said, there were flaws in the film. Laurence Fishburne, who I tend to think is a pretty good actor, wasn't given much to work with and his best scene was actually one he narrated. Many of the smaller roles were heavily stereotyped as well. Finally, the director seemed to go out of his way (as previously mentioned) to included as many cliches as possible in the films. Still, younger viewers won't catch on and the happy-feel-good ending makes even adults forgive and forget.

Final word on Akeelah and the Bee: Worth a rental, especially for kids at or under 12 years of age.

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