A young girl from South Los Angeles tries to make it to the National Spelling Bee.

Director:

Doug Atchison

Writer:

Doug Atchison
11 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Keke Palmer ... Akeelah
Laurence Fishburne ... Dr. Larabee
Angela Bassett ... Tanya
Curtis Armstrong ... Mr. Welch
J.R. Villarreal ... Javier (as JR Villarreal)
Sean Michael Afable ... Dylan
Sahara Ware Sahara Ware ... Georgia (as Sahara Garey)
Lee Thompson Young ... Devon
Julito McCullum ... Terrence
Erica Hubbard ... Kiana
Eddie Steeples ... Derrick-T
Dalia Phillips ... Ms. Cross
Tzi Ma ... Mr. Chiu
Jeris Poindexter ... Steve (as Jeris Lee Poindexter)
Sara Niemietz ... Polly
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Storyline

Eleven year-old Akeelah Anderson's life is not easy: her father is dead, her mom ignores her, her brother runs with the local gangbangers. She's smart, but her environment threatens to strangle her aspirations. Responding to a threat by her school's principal, Akeelah participates in a spelling bee to avoid detention for her many absences. Much to her surprise and embarrassment, she wins. Her principal asks her to seek coaching from an English professor named Dr. Larabee for the more prestigious regional bee. As the possibility of making it all the way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee looms, Akeelah could provide her community with someone to rally around and be proud of -- but only if she can overcome her insecurities and her distracting home life. She also must get past Dr. Larabee's demons, and a field of more experienced and privileged fellow spellers. Written by Shannon Patrick Sullivan <shannon@mun.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Changing the world... one word at a time.

Genres:

Drama | Family

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The quote that Dr. Larabee has Akeelah read from a plaque on his wall is an excerpt from "A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles" by Marianne Williamson. See more »

Goofs

One of the Spelling Bee words is Pluziosity (with a Z), but the word is spelled Pluviosity (with a V). See more »

Quotes

Katie Kerwin McCrimmon: [commentating on TV] Several of the kids placed very high in last year's bee, especially Dylan Chiu. He's come in second two years in a row.
Derrick-T: Kick his butt, Akeelah! B-U-T-T, butt!
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Connections

Features E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Anthrax Island
(2001)
Written by Mad Child (as S Bunting), Prevail (as K Hendriks), West Plischke (as W Plischke)
Performed by Swollen Members
Courtesy of Battle Axe Records
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User Reviews

 
Inspiring and necessary
7 April 2006 | by screen14See all my reviews

I went to an advance screening and found "Akeelah" to be so much more than I expected. I sat in the theater dabbing tears from eyes throughout the showing. The emotional weight, story-telling approach and female perspective in "Akeelah" is much like that of POETIC JUSTICE (also set in South Central, LA).

"Akeelah" has GREAT cast performances. As a mentor to Akeelah, Laurence Fishburne continuously reminded me of his nurturing position in BOYZ N THE HOOD - I thought of FINDING FORRESTER and THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE as well. Fishburne looks spectacular with Angela Bassett who knows all the right expressions and vocal tones to have the powerful realism she does in her role as a fearful parent in South Central. Keke Palmer, she is definitely on the rise... pretty girl too. Several strong subplots come about in the first half of "Akeelah." They deal with the painful past of Dr. Larabee (Fishburne), lack of time and attention from Akeelah's overworked mother (Bassett), a teetering relationship between Akeelah and her best friend Georgia (Sahara Garey), and the problems of one of Akeelah's brothers who spends his time out late on the streets of South Central.

Apart from the dramatic mood of "Akeelah," there's an excellent amount of comedy. Many of the jokes are in the things that aren't said but seen (watch the father of Akeelah's major opponent). The most hilarious part of the film, IMO, involves the loyalty of Akeelah's friend Javier (J.R. Villarreal) - you'll know the scene when you see it.

From a more objective standpoint, I felt that many of the scene cuts/transitions in "Akeelah" weren't too clean. I forget all about it though when I reflect on the emotional montages that center around Akeelah, her family and the people of her community. If you remember the standout poem ("our deepest fear...") recited in COACH CARTER, you might feel that "Akeelah" twice makes trite use of it. However, different lines of the poem are read this time around. The pacing of "Akeelah" is good, especially when it comes to how Akeelah learns and advances in the National Spelling Bee. "Akeelah" makes the competition look and feel suspenseful at times, but more importantly, it focuses on the rewards found by those who believe in themselves. Kids in the theater I went to were spelling aloud from the very first scene.

The ending -- I won't spoil it -- combines the pieces of humor, triumph and sadness in "Akeelah" in one of the most beautiful finishes I've ever seen, felt and heard from a movie. You MUST go see AKEELAH AND THE BEE!! You'll leave the theater highly inspired by the best word given in the film ("L-O-V-E").


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 April 2006 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Akeelah and the Bee See more »

Filming Locations:

Berkeley, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,011,585, 30 April 2006

Gross USA:

$18,848,430

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$18,948,425
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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