PG for some language
April 28, 2006
Drama and Kids/Family
Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, Keke Palmer, Curtis Armstrong, J.R. Villarreal
Lions Gate Releasing
In providing movie reviews on our site, CBN.com is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.
Akeelah and the Bee
By Elliott Ryan
I first heard about this film when I stopped off at Starbucks one morning. Instead of just conquering the world of coffee, the chain is now in the business of producing movies too. Akeelah and the Bee is actually a perfect movie for them to be involved with because it matches the uplifting messages they try to convey through their socially responsible business plans and even through the inspiring quotes on their coffee cups.
The film tells the heart-warming story of Akeelah Anderson (played by 11 year old Keke Palmer in an excellent performance) who is reluctantly talked into participating in her school’s spelling bee by her principal. While Akeelah loves spelling, she is hesitant to participate in the contest because she knows other students at her inner city middle school will look down on her. Unfortunately, many of her fellow students look down on those who work to achieve academic excellence even though that is one of the most surefire ways to get out of the difficulties of the low-income existence they currently endure.
Akeelah wins her school’s bee and decides to set her sights on the national competition. In order to get there, she needs to win several regional spelling bees. In order to do that, she needs help. She finds that help in the form of a coach (played by Laurence Fishburne). Many hours are spent training for the bee as one would practice for any great competition.
Akeelah does face obstacles along the way. Many kids do look down upon her as being some kind of freak because she can spell so well. Even her own mother (Angela Bassett) is torn between whether she should support her daughter’s attempts to compete in spelling bees. Outside of Akeelah, her coach and her principal, very few people seem to think she has any chance at all of winning.
But as the movie goes on, Akeelah learns from her mother, her coach, and even her opponents in the spelling bees that there are things in life more important than winning. Lessons are learned about obedience, loyalty, and determination. The movie is syrupy sweet at times. And it definitely doesn’t break any new ground. Yet as I watched it, I was entertained and inspired throughout the whole thing.
This is certainly the kind of story children need to see. Children need to know that regardless of where they come from, God has given them the potential to accomplish great things. Unfortunately, the movie does have several instances of inappropriate language. There aren’t many obscenities. But one would think that with such an extensive vocabulary to choose from, the makers of a spelling bee movie aimed at families could have gone without any coarse language.
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