Akeelah and the Bee (Fullscreen) product details page

Akeelah and the Bee (Fullscreen)

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The average sports movie has a very predictable plot. The misfit learns that he or she has a particular aptitude for the game, there is a coach who knows how to motivate and turns out to hide a heart of gold underneath the gruff exterior, our hero overcomes self-doubt, and eventually everyone gets to "The Big Game." Akeelah and the Bee follows these points at every turn, but the fact that the "sport" is spelling, along with the remarkable skill of the cast and crew, makes it a very strong entry in the sports movie genre. The superb Keke Palmer plays Akeelah, the young black girl from the inner city who through skill and determination battles her way into the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. Palmer feels like she was plucked right off the streets, but she is in fact a professional actress. She handles the deep emotional scenes with a combination of resolve and helplessness that dramatically underscore her character's intelligence and vulnerability. Laurence Fishburne has an ability to express intellectual and/or physical authority alongside a charm that can make that authority seem either less or more threatening depending on the character. He embodies Akeelah's mentor, Dr. Larabee, with the sadness and severity of a man cut off from his own feelings, but smart enough to know this. Angela Bassett, as Akeelah's mother, must play the most difficult part in the film. How do you portray a mother who is opposed to her child being in a spelling bee without coming off like a monster? Because the screenwriters have done an excellent job fashioning an effective if obvious backstory for her, Bassett is never afraid to make her character unappealing when she needs to be. Anyone can see where and how Akeelah gets her dogged determined streak. The supporting cast, especially the group of actors who play Akeelah's friends and competitors, all feel natural and are very appealing. There are no surprises in the film, just rock-solid acting and flawless craftsmanship from the writer/director Doug Atchison. If nothing else, Akeelah and the Bee showcases the joys of solid story structure married to talented artists. Perry Seibert, All Movie Guide