Akeelah and the Bee

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Kirk Tsai, May 7, 2006.

  1. Kirk Tsai

    Kirk Tsai Screenwriter

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    I did a basic search and found no thread on this film.

    It is a feel good movie about an 11 year old girl in Crenshaw that participates in the spelling bee contests. The characters in the film are very aware of race and class, but the movie does not use them as a sledgehammer. Fishburne and Basset reunite after Boyz in the Hood and What's Love Gotta Do With It. The two of them get a couple of scenes, but the main focus is on the Akeelah character, beautifully played by Keke Palmer. You can't help but root for her. She has several very good scenes with Fishburne.

    With the spelling bee soon becoming a sub-genre of the sports movie, this movie finds a way to provide a satisfying ending that is properly set up in the movie. In the film, the Fishburne character introduces a crucial passage to Akeelah about personal worth and how it effects others. The movie then goes ahead and demonstrates it. It is quite inspiring.
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I've been meaning to see this film, but my available time has been short. Perhaps, I'll try to sneak in a matinee this week.



    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Michael:M

    Michael:M Supporting Actor

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    Saw this last week with my daughters (ages almost 9 and 10). Really, really enjoyed it - the young actress playing Akeelah was perfection, and Larry Fishburne, like Morgan Freeman, fills the older and wounded mentor role with grace and humanity. While it is essentially a sports movie, complete with the usual sports movie plot turns and cliches, the performances and subject matter elevate it above most dreck aimed at tweens and families.

    I wouldn't call it "gritty" but it also doesn't shy away from the fact that in American schools, those who excel academically are generally mocked and pushed to the fringes. The movie's aim wasn't a detailed, ultra-realistic depiction of a young minority girl's hardships, though they are certainly present with an acceptable sense of realism.

    The movie is certainly guilty of some Hollywood-isms - the pimp/dealer with a sensitive, creative side, the idea of one local person's triumph pulling the community together, dedication and humility making friends of enemies - but these generally come across as optimism and hope rather than blatant pulls at our heartstrings. The movie is about perservering and hoping, believing in yourself while remaining true to the things you know are good and true.

    I've seen a slew of movies with my daughter in the last two years. Some made me want to claw my eyes out and stick screwdrivers into my ears (any "family" movie with Steve Martin, for instance). This is one I'd gladly watch again, and would likely get more out of each time.

    Strongly recommended for family viewing as well as adults who want something with drama without it being intensely heavy.
     
  4. Sylvia*ST

    Sylvia*ST Stunt Coordinator

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    A gang of us where I live go to a movie every week and Akeelah and the Bee is the first film this year which I would ever see again. Both the girl who plays Akeelah and Fishburne lifted the move out of its predictable storyline. The sparse audience at a Wednesday matinee performance actually stood and cheered when the film was over. Outstanding, and I think virtually everyone would enjoy the film on many levels.
     
  5. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

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    The rare family film that is entertaining for both kids and adults. I will be recommending this one for my nieces.

    Terrific performances and a good story. Recommended!

    Rob
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Man, I loved this film and so did the audience I watched it with.





    Crawdaddy
     
  7. Jose Martinez

    Jose Martinez Screenwriter

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    *****/*****
    My favorite film of the year so far. Excellent performances especially Keke Palmer. Like Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider, she deserves an Oscar nomination.

    I just wish more people see this film. It deserves a better audience.
     
  8. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Would it fly above a 5 y/o gal?

    --
    H
     
  9. Jose Martinez

    Jose Martinez Screenwriter

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    No, it's great for the whole family. It may even inspire her.
     
  10. Jose Martinez

    Jose Martinez Screenwriter

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    Oh, I have to add that Angela Basset is terrific as usual and still looks great!
     
  11. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    While the story of "Akeelah and the Bee" follows the classical underdog rags-to-riches structure, the execution is superb, and cast is uniformily good. Who'd thought a film about competitive spelling could inspire people of all ages (well if you had seen "Spellbound" from a few years ago, you would, but I digress).

    If you have a son or daughter in grade school or middle school, take them to see this film, it's definitely a film that the entire family can enjoy and take something from it in the process.

    I give it 3.75 stars, or a grade of A-.
     
  12. Nkosi

    Nkosi Stunt Coordinator

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    I just got back from seeing Akeelah this afternoon. It was superb.

    A few weeks ago film critic Elvis Mitchell sat in on the Charlie Rose show and interviewed Fishburne. Fishburne said that after doing 'Boyz' he received a lot of positive feedback from people who said the movie showed them how to be a good father and how to raise a son. Fishburne said that he hopes this movie does the same for little girls. In fact, during the end credits I saw he dedicated his performance to his daughter.

    I think everyone should see this movie and can/ will be inspired by it. I know I was. But I also really feel this movie should be required viewing for young girls, especially young black girls. In this day and age where it is hard to find positive images in entertainment, this movie stands to the contrary. A film like this needs to promoted, shared, and discussed. Props to Lionsgate and their partners for putting this thing together. Great movie!
     
  13. Dave Hackman

    Dave Hackman Stunt Coordinator

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    This movie worked well despite its safer then safe story that didn’t come close to putting any character in a difficult position. I understand it’s a spelling bee but I would have liked more real or perceived tragedy.

    Akeelah’s address may not have been recorded in school transcripts as living on Sesame Street but damn if her neighbors and neighborhood didn’t behave as such. There was a veil of non-reality to this story that never lifted and it unfortunately prohibited me from completely loving this film.

    Aeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer) is awesome as the lead and her chemistry with Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne) and the fellow competing children is what makes this film fun to watch. I really loved that ham of kid Javier ( J.R. Villarreal). This kid was great! His goofy cocky antics brought life and energy to every scene. Both he and Keke Palmer were a mighty duo. The only performance I didn’t like was by Angela Bassett who played Akeelah’s mother. She seemed like she was just trying too hard and strained through scenes that should have been easy.

    I think this is a wonderful family movie and something safe for kids. I do however wish the training wheels were less obvious for adults.

    B
     
  14. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    This caught my eye and I'm sure I'll see it one way or the other. (DVD).
    I saw somewhere? a fairly indepth segment on the "making of".
    Dave your review looks dead-to-rights as regarding the impressions I garnered.
     
  15. Lucia Duran

    Lucia Duran Screenwriter

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    glad to hear such posotive reviews of this film. I have been wanting to see this movie and now I am sure I will take the kidlets.
     

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