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Akeelah and the Bee
DVD disk
Sep 12, 2006 By: Sturdy
Akeelah and the Bee order
Director:
Doug Atchison

Actors:
Laurence Fishburne
Angela Bassett
Keke Palmer

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A young girl must battle the trappings of an inner city lifestyle to realize her full talent and unique spelling gift. Along the way, she meets a trusty mentor and establishes a stronger relationship with her family and her city.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I think the worst thing for Akeelah is the fact that the film was released too close to the other fictional spelling bee movie, BEE SEASON. I wasn't a fan of the latter, and what good elements it had, were once again shown in Akeelah. The drama, the intense spelling sequences and the pressure a little girl feels and how she overcomes it are all elements that get repeated. Frankly, neither film lives up to the real-life documentary SPELLBOUND that had all the good elements, but was void of all the sappy Hollywood inclusions.

As it turns out, Akeelah starts and stops exactly like you think it will. You know she's a gifted speller, you know she's going to have a smart mentor, and you know there's going to be obstacles on her way to the national spelling competition. Whether or not you enjoy the ride is dependent on how you feel about little Keke Palmer. If you like her, then you'll enjoy the movie, because make no mistake about it, this is her film. She's in every scene and the film is totally reliant on her likeability. On screen, I don't have feelings one way or the other. She is talented enough, but I found her situations to be cliché and boring. We've all seen the movie about the struggling kid from the city and their attempts to chase their dreams.

The rest of the performances were average. I always feel Angela Bassett over-acts every role she has, and she didn't prove me wrong here. The direction and screen writing was very average and you won't find anything new. I will say that young kids will enjoy this film. It's a wholesome, mildly uplifting story that shouldn't offend or surprise anyone. It's always nice to see kids overcome obstacles and achieve success.
THE EXTRAS
Making of Akeelah and the Bee (22:06): So the director came up with this story 4-5 years ago, but this is the third movie in the past few years to deal with spelling bees. If he had made this film five years ago, then it might have been original. This is a good featurette with views from all the major players.

Two Peas in a Pod (4:20): This is an entire feature dedicated to showing how Keke and the director got along so well. I highly recommend watching the movie first, because after this, you’re going to find Keke extremely annoying.

Inside the Mind of Akeelah (7:03): This is kind of interesting because it breaks down particular scenes and shows the interaction between the director and Keke. However, it would’ve been better to combine it with the previous one since it piggy-backs on their relationship.

Deleted Scenes (3:49): These weren’t very good and all of them deserved to be cut. Akeelah dragged at times anyway, and these would’ve made it worse.

There are also some Previews and a Music video
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
In the end, Akeelah is a very average film. If you think you'll like Ms. Palmer, then I can recommend this whole-heartedly. If not, then do yourself a favor a check out SPELLBOUND. The kids are cuter, and the film is much better.
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