MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 188 this week

Spellbound (2002)

7.7
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 10,255 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 103 user | 102 critic | 34 from Metacritic.com

Spellbound follows eight teenagers on their quest to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee.

Director:

Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 49 titles
created 23 Oct 2011
 
a list of 35 titles
created 19 Mar 2012
 
a list of 21 titles
created 01 Oct 2012
 
a list of 34 titles
created 5 months ago
 
a list of 48 titles
created 1 month ago
 

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Spellbound (2002)

Spellbound (2002) on IMDb 7.7/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Spellbound.
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 16 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Catfish (2010)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Young filmmakers document their colleague's budding online friendship with a young woman and her family which leads to an unexpected series of discoveries.

Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Stars: Yaniv Schulman, Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost
Food, Inc. (2008)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

An unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industry.

Director: Robert Kenner
Stars: Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Richard Lobb
Wordplay (2006)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An in-depth look at The New York Times' long-time crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz and his loyal fan base.

Director: Patrick Creadon
Stars: Will Shortz, Ken Burns, Jon Stewart
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Kirby Dick's exposé about the American movie ratings board.

Director: Kirby Dick
Stars: Kirby Dick, Kimberly Peirce, Darren Aronofsky
Inside Job (2010)
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Takes a closer look at what brought about the financial meltdown.

Director: Charles Ferguson
Stars: Matt Damon, William Ackman, Daniel Alpert
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A documentary on Al Gore's campaign to make the issue of global warming a recognized problem worldwide.

Director: Davis Guggenheim
Stars: Al Gore, Billy West, George Bush
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Two documentary filmmakers chronicle their time in Sonagchi, Calcutta and the relationships they developed with children of prostitutes who work the city's notorious red light district.

Directors: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman
Stars: Kochi, Avijit Halder, Shanti Das
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A documentary that investigates the birth and death of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in the future.

Director: Chris Paine
Stars: Martin Sheen, Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson
Control Room (2004)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A documentary on perception of the United States's war with Iraq, with an emphasis on Al Jazeera's coverage.

Director: Jehane Noujaim
Stars: Samir Khader, Josh Rushing, George W. Bush
The Cove (2009)
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health.

Director: Louie Psihoyos
Stars: Richard O'Barry, Louie Psihoyos, Hardy Jones
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people - and the state - kill.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Werner Herzog, Richard Lopez, Michael Perry
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock 'n' roller, Rodriguez.

Director: Malik Bendjelloul
Stars: Rodriguez, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman, Dennis Coffey
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Arenivar ...
Herself - Spelling Bee Participant
Ubaldo Arenivar ...
Himself - Angela's Father (as Ubaldo)
Jorge Arenivar ...
Himself - Angela's Brother (as Jorge)
Scott McGarraugh ...
Himself - Ranch Owner (as Mr. McGarraugh)
Lindy McGarraugh ...
Herself - Ranch Owner (as Mrs. McGarraugh)
Concepción Arenivar ...
Herself - Angela's Mother (as Concepción)
Mrs. Slaughter ...
Herself - Angela's Teacher
Neelima Marupudi ...
Herself - Potter County Champion (as Neelima)
Nupur Lala ...
Herself - Spelling Bee Participant
Ms. Whitehurst ...
Herself - Nupur's Teacher
Parag Lala ...
Himself - Nupur's Father (as Parag)
Meena Lala ...
Herself - Nupur's Mother (as Meena)
Kuna Lala ...
Himself - Nupur's Brother (as Kuna)
Ted Brigham ...
Himself - Spelling Bee Participant
Ms. Blair ...
Herself - Tes's Teacher
Edit

Storyline

This documentary follows 8 teens and pre-teens as they work their way toward the finals of the Scripps Howard national spelling bee championship in Washington D.C. All work quite hard and practice daily, first having to win their regional championship before they can move on. Interviews include the parents and teachers who are working with them. The competitors not only work hard to get to the finals but face tremendous pressure as the original group of over 250 competitors is whittled down and the words they must spell get ever more difficult. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

EVERYONE WANTS THE LAST WORD See more »

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

10 October 2003 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Spellbound  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£57,735 (UK) (10 October 2003)

Gross:

$5,728,431 (USA) (5 December 2003)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Goofs

While interviewing Harry in his room the boom mic is deliberately shown after Harry asks "Is that thing edible?" See more »

Quotes

Herself - Spelling Bee Participant: In summer I kind of worked around 8 to 9 hours a day, but as school began I just worked about 5 to 6 hours a day.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is no cast list; a cast member is considered credited if a subtitle or an item in the film prints the name (or partial name). See more »

Connections

References Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Spelling counts
14 October 2003 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews



Doesn't it matter what the words mean more than the letters in them? Wouldn't it do a precocious kid more good to pour over Shakespeare or Jane Austen or Hemingway or even Harry Potter than to turn the pages of a dictionary or be drilled by a parent on how to spell obscure words like "lycanthrope" and "cephalalgia" (or the supremely ironic last word in the final shown here, "logorrhea") which the parents themselves can't even pronounce? When little showoff Harry Altman stumbles and comically grimaces over the word "banns," it seems to me he might be doing better – not in the contest, perhaps, but in life – to read more books, so he'd become familiar with the custom of "posting the banns," which isn't so obscure as the film and Harry make out, if you've gathered a wide acquaintance with marital customs through reading.

But there is after all a higher significance in all this. America is a self-made country and English in some queer sense is a self-made language, and these general points play into the significance of this surprisingly moving and thought-provoking little film. It's not only the suspense and emotion Spellbound evokes or its fairly tight documentary organization but such more general themes as social mobility and the accessibility of certain sports that make this otherwise conventional movie rise above the ordinary and explain why it's worthy of theatrical distribution and not just a slot on PBS. What would this be like in Italian? That's a language, like some others, whose spellings are so phonetic that a contest like this wouldn't make much sense. But English spellings really don't make much sense. English poses unique problems. The Italian columnist Beppe Severgnini is wrong to have written that it's because we're terrible spellers that spelling bees excite us. An Italian just can't understand. If you say an Italian word, ninety-eight percent of the time (if you're Italian) you know how to spell it. In English, we've got all those tiny vowel differences and remnants of Germanic gutturals and all those endless words from Arabic and Persian and Greek and a hundred other languages that we've transliterated by a hundred different unrelated systems. Why should `Darjeeling,' which so ironically almost stumps the Indian-American Neil Kadakia, be spelled that way and not darjiling or dardjeeling, or who knows what? It's because English spelling had no strict rules till the late nineteenth century; English went through so many growing pains from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Dryden to Jane Austen; because we still have no consistent phonetic system; and because our language has all those endless half-assimilated loan words from other cultures and tongues, that spelling in English is a nightmare and a kind of art, and a truly expert young speller is a real entity worth the chimerical task of seeking him or her out each year.

Spelling bees are a matter of rote knowledge, but success in them can sometimes involve some inspired guessing, and this is shown by the fine tuning contestants are allowed in the DC competition when they ask what language or culture the word comes from. Despite the strong element of memorization, the event attracts and finds ambitious, bright, even rather intellectual kids: lots of hard work maybe, but also some kind of raw brainy talent we don't by any means all have: inspiration and perspiration, the old combination.

The new immigrants in Spellbound are a major force. There are not one but two Indian-Americans in the eight the filmmaker has carefully singled out for special focus, and one of those wins. There's the Mexican girl whose father (so movingly) feels fulfilled, his whole life's journey made worthwhile, just because she has qualified; and he can't even speak English. And there's Ashley, the Black girl from the DC projects who didn't get a trophy or much recognition but dreams, nay prays, to be the winner. And even the boy from rural Tennessee who says there are hardly any other smart kids in his school qualifies as some kind of outsider who magically comes home, and gets put in his place in a complex way, like an Oklahoma valedictorian in the freshman class at Harvard, when he gets to compete in the national spelling bee. .Spellbound itself isn't a profound movie, but it has heart. Like the German WWII film Die Brucke (The Bridge) it shows a group of kids up close and personal and then follows them into battle where one by one they fall, till the last remains, and gets "logorrhea" right (I didn't -- I had to use Spell Check again even though I guessed it right the first time), and becomes champion. And in the emotion of trying so hard and then getting knocked out by one wrong letter, Spellbound illustrates sportsmanship and being all you can be and the joy of competiton and the agony of defeat. It's about poise and maturity and just being a kid. And it's a close, intense analysis of an event – a phenomenon, really – with more ramifications than we ever realized, till we see it. Spellbound is pretty universal in its appeal and by any accounts it's a wonderful little documentary.


8 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Harry's parents creme_brulee
The black girl from DC hsehunt03
Where are they now? krista-plaisted
amazing mochabird
How Did They Know Who To Follow? Jeope!
Please donate to the Harry Altman Hyperactivity Foundation AlecEiffel
Discuss Spellbound (2002) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page