Akeelah and the Bee | Chicago Reader

Akeelah and the Bee

Coming on the heels of Spellbound and Bee Season, this small gem (2006) about a South Central LA girl with a gift for spelling restores luster to the family genre. Keke Palmer gives a breakout performance as the title character, whose prodigious talent is nearly deep-sixed by her lack of self-esteem and her harried, widowed mom (Angela Bassett), who dismisses spelling bees as an extracurricular activity they can't afford. Laurence Fishburne plays Akeelah's coach, an academic burnout with a tragic past, and though his theatricality can be distracting, he drives home the story's moral about ambition and self-reliance. Writer-director Doug Atchison exalts teamwork and community to the point of corn—Capra in the hood—but the movie's uplift is undeniable. With Curtis Armstrong, J.R. Villarreal, and Sean Michael Afable.

Credits

Director:

  • Doug Atchison

Cast:

  • Laurence Fishburne
  • Angela Bassett
  • Keke Palmer
  • Jeff Marlow
  • Sara Niemietz
  • Eddie Steeples

Writer:

  • Doug Atchison

Producers:

  • Sidney Ganis
  • Danny Llewelyn
  • Michael Romersa
  • Laurence Fishburne
  • Nancy Hult Ganis

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