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Director: Doug Atchison
Keke Palmer is Akeelah Anderson, a shy, eleven-year-old struggling in a large single parent family, in the Crenshaw area of L.A., after the death of her father. She has an insatiable appetite for words, scrabble and spelling. What a freak! Just kidding. I’m a writer. Of course, I love spelling. I love movies, too. So, it stands to reason that I love movies about spelling. I love every movie about spelling! So, far I’ve seen one. This one.
After being pushed into a spelling bee at school, Akeelah develops a passion for competing with what had been her hidden talent and obsession. Laurence Fishburne comes into her life as a reluctant coach with a story of his own and teaches Akeelah more than spelling. Angela Bassett is wonderful as the harried mother of a gifted youngster who is too busy to holding her world together to lend encouragement. Akeelah’s passion, in which she finds relief from inner pain, leads her to new challenges, new friends and the discovery of friends that she didn’t know she had. This takes us to a wonderfully refreshing ending.
Doug Atchison wrote and directed this gem of a project. I picked it up without a lot of expectations and was delighted to discover a funny, intelligent and poignant drama. The acting is as strong as you would expect from veterans like Bassett and Fishburne, but the talent of the younger cast members was impressive. All in all, this is a top-notch flick about chasing your dreams, conquering your fears and accepting your past. It may make you cry. It may make you laugh. It will definitely make you stand up and cheer.