• Publication date: February 11, 2010

A War Of Words & The Mind Life�s Struggles Mirrored In A Spelling Bee

�Akeelah and the Bee� (2006) features �Boyz N The Hood� (1991) and �The Matrix� (1999) star Laurence Fishburne alongside Angela Bassett of �Malcolm X� (1992) and �How Stella Got Her Groove Back� (1998) notoriety. Fishburne and Sid Ganis of �Big Daddy� and �Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo� (1999) fame produce the heartwarming flick.

�Akeelah and the Bee� (2006) features �Boyz N The Hood� (1991) and �The Matrix� (1999) star Laurence Fishburne alongside Angela Bassett of �Malcolm X� (1992) and �How Stella Got Her Groove Back� (1998) notoriety. Fishburne and Sid Ganis of �Big Daddy� and �Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo� (1999) fame produce the heartwarming flick.

Keke Palmer, who viewers may recognize as Queen Latifah�s niece from �Barbershop 2� depicts Akeelah Anderson, a young and intelligent underachiever living in the gang-ridden South Central area of Los Angeles. Bored and uninterested with school, Akeelah is regularly tardy or absent. Due to her behavior, school principal Mr. Welch (Curtis Armstrong) intends to assign Akeelah to detention, yet changes his mind and encourages her to participate in the school spelling bee instead.

Akeelah�s performance at the bee is stellar and Mr. Welch believes that the young girl has the potential to both compete in and win the National Spelling Bee, a real-life event depicted most recently in the hit documentary �Spellbound� (2002) and in the drama �Bee Season� (2005). Hungry for victory, Akeelah begs former spelling bee champion and English professor Dr. Joshua Larabee (Fishburne) to become her coach, a task he initially refuses. However when he witnesses Akeelah�s skill he has a change of heart, especially since the young girl reminds him of his recently deceased daughter, Denise.

As in 1993�s �Searching for Bobby Fischer� Fishburne plays the part of a stern, wise, mentor whose primary goal is to help Akeelah realize her success. More precisely, Dr. Larabee must instill in Akeelah the importance of self-confidence and the necessity of overcoming adversity, both internally and externally. Internally the young girl must learn to believe in herself and to dismiss naysayers; externally she must deal with family and peers who believe intelligence is weak and that society is inherently out to destroy her. Akeelah�s mother, Tanya (Bassett) at one point refuses to allow her daughter to participate in the bee, insisting that finishing her homework and completing household chores is more important. Yet, after realizing the amount of time both Dr. Larabee and Mr. Welch invested in Akeelah�s success, Tanya has a change of heart.

In her travels Akeelah finds her first love, a Mexican-American and fellow competitor named Javier Mendez (J.R. Villareal). She will also befriend Chinese-American Dylan Chiu (Sean Michael Afable), another top competitor with an overbearing father who will accept nothing but perfection. Without spoiling the outcome of the picture it should be said that Akeelah undergoes a number of tear-jerking transformations and that something so seemingly small, such as a spelling bee, can have a profound effect on a child�s early development.

�Akeelah and the Bee� is Rated PG for some language with a runtime of 112 minutes.