Akeelah and the Bee

Akeelah and the Bee

Doug Atchison (2006)

12A Certificate


Our Score
Spelling is the magic key to community cohesion in this simplistic but sincere wish-fulfilment drama. Playing like a fictional take on the 2002 documentary Spellbound, it uses the story of a precocious African-American girl's gift for words as a focal point to explore the current US preoccupation with junior spelling contests. Keke Palmer is wonderful as the talented 11-year-old Akeelah, who gradually finds the self-belief to ignore her mocking south Los Angeles classmates and sceptical mother (Angela Bassett) and enter a televised national spelling bee. Crucial to Akeelah's inspirational journey is Laurence Fishburne as her reluctant coach, whose dignified performance helps bolster the film's commendable intellectual and emotional messages. Although the plot is predictable, with the outcome blatantly obvious, it's hard not to get drawn into events, particularly when the tense competition unfolds. Only the final sequences descend into naive fantasy, as even gang members stop their shady activities to root for their local spelling star.


A clever girl from a poor neighbourhood finds school frustrating and tries to hide her intelligence from her classmates. When she competes in a spelling competition, she is surprised to win and with the aid of a strict coach, sets out to take part in a national tournament and provide her community with something to rally round. Drama, starring Keke Palmer, Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett. Edited for daytime broadcast.

Cast & Crew

Dr Larabee Laurence Fishburne
Tanya Anderson Angela Bassett
Akeelah Anderson Keke Palmer
Mr Welch Curtis Armstrong
Mr Chiu Ma Tzi
Devon Lee Thompson Young
Javier J R Villarreal
Dylan Sean Michael Afable
Georgia Sahara Garey
Kiana Erica Hubbard
Director Doug Atchison
see more

Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Lions GateGuidance: Swearing.Available on: DVDReleased on: 18 Aug 2006