Akeelah and the Bee

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Product Overview

Akeelah anderson is an 11 year old girl from south L.A. With a gift for words. Despite the objections of her mother, akeelah enters various spelling contests. She is tutored by her principal and local residents. When she qualifies for the national spelling bee, the neighborhood is united by the little girl.


Studio Lions Gate
SKU 202703386
UPC 031398195962
UPC 14 00031398195962
Format DVD
Release Date 1/19/2010
Rating Rating
Theatrical Release
Editors Note
Note Following in the fine tradition of inspiring inner-city underdog tales like STAND AND DELIVER, and TAKE THE LEAD, Doug Atchison's AKEELAH AND THE BEE is a story of overcoming odds that never descends into empty formula. The narrative centers around the character of Akeelah (Keke Palmer, in a star-making performance), a charming yet insecure 11 year old girl from Los Angeles' gang-ridden South Central district. Upon flipping channels after school one day, she lands on ESPN's coverage of the National Spelling Bee. Having recently become aware of her innate talent in this area, Akeelah cannot help but fantasize about the prospect of being a star of the bee circuit. The tragic problem -- intelligence of this kind is not valued in her community, where skills of athleticism and rapping are coveted far more than school smarts. Though Akeelah attempts to hide her academic acuity behind a rebellious attitude, she cannot resist the temptation to enter her school's spelling bee, at which her stellar performance attracts the attention of her idealistic principal, who pairs her with a mentor, a former professor named Joshua Larabee (the always riveting Laurence Fishburne, who re-embodies the wise iconoclast character he played so well in the chess movie SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER). Meanwhile, Akeelah's strong, practical mother, (played by Angela Bassett, who worked with Fishburne on the Tina Turner biopic WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?) while always supportive of her talented daughter, does not necessarily see the point of spending such time and energy on what will likely amount to a fleeting hobby. ^Perhaps taking its cue from the surprising popularity of Jeffrey Blitz's quirky documentary SPELLBOUND (2002), which explored spelling prodigies from diverse classes, races, and geographic locations, this drama makes what could be a narrow niche into a universal tale of triumph over adversity.
Entertainment Weekly "[T]his feel-gooder revels in its hip-to-be-square hyperliteracy, and neatly exceeds its own PSA-ness..." -- Grade: B 04/28/2006 p.118
New York Times "[A]n underdog story that manages to inspire without being sappy." 04/28/2006 p.E20
USA Today "Palmer is a natural....There's nothing cynical about Akeelah's story of courage and determination." 04/28/2006 p.8E
Total Film 3 stars out of 5 -- "You'll have a lump in your throat during this heart-tugger..." 08/01/2006 p.32
Sight and Sound "AKEELAH AND THE BEE is most successful in the way it generates tension during the spelling-bee scenes." 09/01/2006 p.44
Doug Atchison
Angela Bassett
Laurence Fishburne
Cast & Crew
Aaron Zigman - Original Music By
Angela Bassett - Actor
Curtis Armstrong - Actor
David Mullen - Cinematographer
Doug Atchison - Director
Doug Atchison - Writer
Glenn Farr - Editor
Keke Palmer - Actor
Laurence Fishburne - Producer
Laurence Fishburne - Actor
Mark Cuban - Executive Producer
Technical Info
Original Release Date 2006
Catalog ID 19596
UPC 00031398195962
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 112 minutes
Color Color
Original Language English
Available Audio Tracks English [CC], English
Aspect Ratio
Widescreen  1.85:1
ReviewSource Variety
Review That seemingly inexhaustible new movie subgenre, the spelling bee drama, receives its most conventionally uplifting treatment yet in "Akeelah and the Bee." Framed around the relationship between an underdog word whiz and her tough-lovin' coach, this earnest weepie plays like "The Karate Kid" with a pro-literacy agenda, pushing all the right emotional buttons yet hitting quite a few wrong ones in the process. Overly calculated yet undeniably potent crowd-pleasing elements...Well-lensed in and around Los Angeles by M. David Mullen, with some occasional if conspicuous handheld camerawork...Aaron Zigman's musical score offers conventional but relatively discreet support.
Reviewer Justin Chang
ReviewRating 9
ReviewSource Reel.com
Review Spelling is hot. In the popular imagination, at least, if not necessarily in reality, kids who can master the intricacies of the English language are superstars. The 2002 documentary Spellbound followed teenagers on the way to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., and it was a box-office hit and an Academy Award Nominee. In 2005, The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee racked up six Tony nominations, including Best Musical, winning another two awards. Last fall, David Siegel and Scott McGehee brought Myla Goldberg's bestselling Bee Season to the big screen. Akeelah and the Bee, an engaging story of a little girl who learns to dream big, is the latest drama hoping to spell its way to success.
Reviewer Pam Grady
ReviewRating 8
DVD, Widescreen, English, Subtitled, Spanish, Dolby Digital (5.1)
Product Attributes
Actor Fishburne,Laurence
Label Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Music Format DVD
Video Format DVD
Ebert & Roeper Two thumbs way up.
Jim Ridley, Dallas Observer A sweet-natured, immensely likable family film
Scott Brown, Entertainment Weekly ...this feel-gooder revels in its hip-to-be-square hyperliteracy...

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