At the Movies

Although I don’t officially feel in the back to school mode quite yet, I’m going to have to face the music soon since one of mine has already flown the coop. I know many of the southern schools have already begun, so I’ve chosen a movie this week to gently get us all in the mood. My kids actually make fun of me for how much I love Akeelah and the Bee.

Although a tad predictable, this inspiring and feel good movie from 2006, makes for terrific family entertainment. I often think it’s rather difficult to find appropriate kid-friendly films that are also appealing to adults. This fulfills both categories with a big thumbs up. In fact I think I have watched this film more times than my younger daughter!

This wonderful story focuses on Akeelah, an 11 year old middle schooler in a tough South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. She is a bright capable student, who, although acing all her spelling tests, doesn’t want to admit her talents and be labeled as an uncool smart kid.

Encouraged by the school principal to enter a local spelling bee, Akeelah finally agrees, even though she has to go behind her overworked mother’s back (Angela Bassett). Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburn) plays her mentor and coach, a man with his own set of demons. The two at first have an antagonistic relationship that develops into a deep and meaningful bond over the course of the movie.

This well written film offers messages on many levels that are clear yet not pandering. Keke Palmer’s excellent portrayal of Akeelah showcases the value of hard work, self-confidence and true friendship in a believable and engaging way. No child or parent will be immune to her winning ways and you will find yourself rooting for her success throughout.

And if you happen to be interested in etymology or have a particular love for the written word, this film will have added appeal. This is not your average spelling bee flick. The excellent script and acting reveal a range of human emotion and character study that go well beyond the genre. I can’t recommend this highly enough as a valuable film to watch with kids of just about any age. Don’t be surprised if you find them asking if your school has a spelling bee!! You can take a peek at the trailer here.

24 thoughts on “At the Movies

  1. I love this movie and each time I see it, often enough, I am amazed at how at the range of acting from Laurence Fishburne. Such a wonderful ensemble of actors in this movie. Good start for kids and a new school year.

  2. I remember this but didn’t see it. My son however liked it very much and now you have me curious too. I love stories of people who against all odds prevail and succeed and this story seems to be a very inspirational story, right up my ally!

  3. this sounds like a charming film that doesn’t pander to a
    simple minded audience but delivers a well thought out helping of
    of intelligence and creativity..will watch it, soon….

  4. Ah yes, fun pick! I remember it fondly. I don’t watch enough children’s movies anymore. I was just thinking I should have a few movies on hand here if friends stay with young ones – this one is perfect :)

  5. I’m not familiar with this movie at all (?)…so I’m thrilled that you’ve introduced me to it, and with such a high must see vibe too, thanks!! It will be the perfect movie to see before my classes start up again!
    xo J~

  6. This one is going to the top of our must see list! As the mother of an 11 year old, soon to be starting middle school, I can’t believe we somehow missed this one, and it looks like this will be entertaining for me as well, sure beats another episode of Zoe 101!

  7. I actually haven’t seen this one yet–it was on my list and got lost in the shuffle, so thank you for the reminder, I’m sure I’m going to love it, especially based on your recommendation. Hope you had a lovely weekend–I’m just easing into Monday :)

    xo Mary Jo

  8. Never heard of this one, but now I will be checking it out. One of my twins is always trying to hide how well he does in school (I have one scholar, one athlete and one artist!)

  9. One of the things I’m going to do this “school” year is make time for movies, sadly I always prefer to do other things with my time. Although, I am now realizing I need to watch some of this highly reviewed movies and that I need to sit still and enjoy them. I’m adding this to my list. Have you seen Help? I heard it was powerful. I must read the book first and then go see. Want to go together?

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