User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 79 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 68 out of 79
  2. Negative: 6 out of 79
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  1. Jan 18, 2014
    9
    All in all, this is an incredibly inspiring movie that is so heartfelt and intellectual at the same time. A very rare film that will make any age group fall in love with the characters.
  2. Apr 27, 2014
    1
    i already seen keke win the spelling be a thousands of times . this movie is gay an i can not believe critics are loving this . Grade F..........................................................................
  3. KwaiD.
    Oct 3, 2006
    9
    A rather uplifting movie with a thoughtful purpose and meaning that resonates with the viewer. A definite must see.
  4. TyeN.
    Oct 3, 2006
    8
    Although it has a few too many clichéd montages towards the end, and a couple of far fetched moments, the emotion is absolutely real. Keke Palmer is astounding and fierce as Akeelah, a very intelligent and lovable eleven-year-old who is unfortunately born in a poor neighborhood and attends a poor school. It rang especially true for me as I grew up in a similar situation. Even if Although it has a few too many clichéd montages towards the end, and a couple of far fetched moments, the emotion is absolutely real. Keke Palmer is astounding and fierce as Akeelah, a very intelligent and lovable eleven-year-old who is unfortunately born in a poor neighborhood and attends a poor school. It rang especially true for me as I grew up in a similar situation. Even if you can't relate (and there are many relatable levels here), you should still enjoy 'Akeelah and the Bee' as a film that the whole family can watch and be inspired by. Expand
  5. MarkB.
    May 2, 2006
    10
    Midway through 2002's world-class, Oscar-nominated documentary Spellbound, someone describes those nationwide spelling bees that have become ESPN staples as a form of legalized child abuse. I don't think I'd go THAT far, but near the end of Akeelah and the Bee, we hear the stressed-out stage father of an obsessively hardworking contestant describe his son in a way that, Midway through 2002's world-class, Oscar-nominated documentary Spellbound, someone describes those nationwide spelling bees that have become ESPN staples as a form of legalized child abuse. I don't think I'd go THAT far, but near the end of Akeelah and the Bee, we hear the stressed-out stage father of an obsessively hardworking contestant describe his son in a way that, while technically true, is so potentially psychically damaging that, yes, it DOES come across as cruel and unusual punishment no matter how well or how badly the poor kid ends up doing. This sets the stage for several key events that follow, but it's a rare painful moment in a movie that's otherwise so warm, appealing and thoroughly irresistable--a feel-good movie of such a high order that I almost hate to risk giving even the slightest impression of, uh, dissing it by labeling it with that slightly pejorative term. In fact, a comparison between this and the somewhat similarly-themed but annoyingly cliched and fraudulent classroom/ ballroom opus Take the Lead (also currently in theaters) truly illustrates Roger Ebert's pet statement (quoting Jean-Luc Godard) that the best way to criticize one movie is with another movie. Not that Akeelah and the Bee can exactly be accused of originality, mind you; you'll definitely find traces and echoes of Rocky, The Karate Kid, The Bad News Bears, Cool Runnings, Whale Rider and many, many more, but it's obvious from early on that writer-director Doug Atchison is working from his heart rather than a checklist. It's easy to see why Atchison has won screenwriting awards for this: in telling his tale of am inner-city junior-high school girl (Keke Palmer, who is flawless) who beats the odds and discovers her unique and special gifts by rising in the ranks of "the Bee", Atchison does a wonderful job of setting up situations, relationships and characters that yield payoffs that may sometimes be predictable but are no less completely pleasing for that. (His use of a very simple child's toy actually leads to TWO payoffs: one heartbreaking, the other unbelievably joyous and triumphant.) I didn't say Atchison's script was exactly PERFECT:Akeelah's mom (Angela Bassett), though credibly overworked and overwhelmed, is clueless as to what her daughter's been doing away from home a bit too long to be completely convincing, and Atchison's method of pumping up suspense in an early round by logistically placing a supporting character in a logistically convenient vantage point is a wee bit TOO miraculous. But when watching Akeelah move up, expand her horizons, develop her self-esteem and energize her community (in a montage sequence that completes Hillary Clinton's much-misunderstood statement about it taking a village to raise a child; here it works in reverse as well), I doubt that you'll be picking apart her creator's work for too long! And as effective, satisfying, funny and moving as the rest of this movie is, the national spelling bee climax delivers extraordinarily beyond expectations. You don't have to be Cal Thomas or Michael Medved to believe that sometimes what a movie says is at least as important as how it says it, and Akeelah and her opponents do something in the final twenty minutes that beautifully encapsulates the endangered concept of "healthy competition". In a day and time in which Mark Burnett acts as our primary advisor as to what qualifies as fair play, when America's Number One corporation practices a business philosophy of not only beating its competitors but completely annihilating them, when a leading politician sums up the current state of our nation's political discourse by comparing bipartisanship to date rape, and when it's getting near-impossible to tell whether our athletic superstars are setting records with or without pharmaceutical enhancement, the sheer decency promoted by Akeelah and the Bee and its characters makes it impossible to respond to this movie in any other way but to simply treasure it. Expand
  6. MarcK.
    May 29, 2006
    7
    Very sweet film. Sometimes it got a bit hokey though. I join others and applaud Keke Palmer's performance.
  7. JayS.
    May 3, 2006
    6
    Almost unbearably predictable. Yet, if you do not bolt the theatre early on, which you should feel free to do, a certain minor alchemy occurs and in my case I began to enjoy this feather of a movie in spite of itself and myself. Please just go in knowing not the slightest hope of surprise exists, and apply any anti-cliche remedies, vaccines or therapies you know of liberally.
  8. DoctorP.
    Jul 4, 2006
    10
    you only think you know the final outcome, but even so, there r so many little treats along the way to make even the journey pleasurable. given the inherant difficulty of making any spelling b seem exciting for any1 not directly involved, this movie is a triumph. sure, the story has been told b4 - what story hasn't? but not this well, or as heart tuggingly (if thats a word). this is you only think you know the final outcome, but even so, there r so many little treats along the way to make even the journey pleasurable. given the inherant difficulty of making any spelling b seem exciting for any1 not directly involved, this movie is a triumph. sure, the story has been told b4 - what story hasn't? but not this well, or as heart tuggingly (if thats a word). this is family entertainment with a profound messege & a great deal of fun along the way. Expand
  9. Adam
    Apr 22, 2006
    9
    Phenomenal -- best performances I've ever seen from Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, and 12-year-old Keke Palmer is incredible...
  10. KenP.
    Apr 23, 2006
    8
    Anyone who's seen Spellbound won't be surprised that a movie about the national spelling bee can be exciting, funny and uplifting. A really enjoyable movie, with some terrific performances, especially from some of the kids.
  11. DWilly
    Apr 30, 2006
    7
    Very cool in the way of inspirational stories about the transformational power of education. It choked me up on a regular basis; although I times I did feel I was being played for a bit of a sap, as when the local drug lord comes aboard to help Akeelah with her spelling, and himself transforms into a Sesame Street drug lord. The young girl is mostly effective and Fishburne is quite good; Very cool in the way of inspirational stories about the transformational power of education. It choked me up on a regular basis; although I times I did feel I was being played for a bit of a sap, as when the local drug lord comes aboard to help Akeelah with her spelling, and himself transforms into a Sesame Street drug lord. The young girl is mostly effective and Fishburne is quite good; but Angela Bassett, in her refusal to surender her Shakespearian diva act although being asked to portray a tough mom in the ghetto, is ridiculous. Expand
  12. DebraW.
    May 10, 2006
    10
    Akeelah and the Bee is such a pleasant retreat from the "norm" in movies today. Great acting and the content is not "sappy" for its PG rating. I enjoyed it, and will encourage all to see it. Particularly, if you want a break from the sex, violence, blood and gore.
  13. PaulK.
    May 4, 2006
    9
    Great! One of the best films I've seen so far this year. Keke Palmer is spot on and I thoroughly enjoyed the unconventional ending. If you have any interest in this at all, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
  14. Cari
    May 5, 2006
    8
    Yes it's predictable, but still it's a nice feel good/family flick. I'll get the DVD when it comes out.
  15. Mase
    May 6, 2006
    7
    Well we already have the far superior documentary "spellbound" and also the miscalculated "bee season". this fits somwhere between. Often predictable and too long, there is still a uplifting spirit and strong performances throughout. You will smile throughout. Go if you can't stomach watching a documentary.
  16. [Anonymous]
    Aug 2, 2006
    10
    supurb in every way, sweet, strong, powerful, meaningful, really good to see if you are nervous, it practically sooths your mind and fixes your problems.
  17. JakeG.
    Sep 9, 2006
    10
    A great movie. Lovable characters. Really pulled on the 2 strongest emotions theatre can pull, laughter and tears. A wonderful production.
  18. KentG.
    Apr 29, 2006
    9
    My wife, myself and my 6 year old son loved this film, and I would recommend it to anyone. While some critics have accused this movie of being formulaic, it does exactly what it sets out to. It is not meant to be high art - it is a message film for children. It is in fact, the best family film I have seen in ages.
  19. MissyV.
    May 22, 2006
    10
    Everyone in our family enjoyed the movie... one you won't forget. We'll be adding it to our DVD collection.
  20. ChadS.
    May 6, 2006
    8
    "Glory Road" was a feel-contrived film, and even though "Akeelah and the Bee" is a slave to formula like the Don Haskins biopic, this variation of the sports movie-formula truly makes you feel-good. Most importantly, it builds a bridge between academia and the perception that African-Americans steeped in hip-hop culture are hostile towards education. The scene between Akeelah(Keke Palmer) "Glory Road" was a feel-contrived film, and even though "Akeelah and the Bee" is a slave to formula like the Don Haskins biopic, this variation of the sports movie-formula truly makes you feel-good. Most importantly, it builds a bridge between academia and the perception that African-Americans steeped in hip-hop culture are hostile towards education. The scene between Akeelah(Keke Palmer) and one her wayward older brother's friend is the film's highlight. His story, you can sense, is a cautionary tale about what happens when peer pressure stifles your potential. Expand
  21. JudyT.
    May 6, 2006
    9
    An almost excellent movie. A real feel good film and there's nothing wrong with that especially these days. The acting was excellent, even the supporting characters did a great job. It got my daughter thinking about big words and that a really, good thing.
  22. Susan
    May 7, 2006
    9
    Best movie thus far this year. If you think you can predict how it ends, you are wrong. Great acting all around.
  23. PeteM.
    Aug 26, 2006
    8
    This is a smart, warmhearted feature that succeeds at overcoming the inherent foibles of such a limited genre. Traditionally, I don
  24. PaulF.
    Aug 31, 2006
    9
    This movie took me by suprise. i had crocidile tears in my eyes for about half of the movie. I suspect this was manipulatively done but isn't that what a movie is suppose to do, draw you in? At any rate this movie not only was very entertaining but had all the right messages, of hard work, striving toward excellence, believing in yourself, teamwork, family, friendship, connection, This movie took me by suprise. i had crocidile tears in my eyes for about half of the movie. I suspect this was manipulatively done but isn't that what a movie is suppose to do, draw you in? At any rate this movie not only was very entertaining but had all the right messages, of hard work, striving toward excellence, believing in yourself, teamwork, family, friendship, connection, healing compassion, and love. Akeelah and the Bee is a tremendous movie with a spirited heart. Expand
  25. ClaudiaB.
    Nov 7, 2006
    10
    Excellent movie that portrayed an African AMerican female in a positive manner. Kudos to the producers and the acting cast. KeKe Palmer, Angela Bassett, and Laurence Fishburne- you are a complete unit. The whole Kenwood High School viewed your movie and discussed various character traits that were associated with the movie. Our school is reflective of some of the same demographics Excellent movie that portrayed an African AMerican female in a positive manner. Kudos to the producers and the acting cast. KeKe Palmer, Angela Bassett, and Laurence Fishburne- you are a complete unit. The whole Kenwood High School viewed your movie and discussed various character traits that were associated with the movie. Our school is reflective of some of the same demographics associated with the movie- many students were inspired to learn new words. Expand
  26. JoeyM.
    Apr 28, 2006
    7
    Keke Palmer definitely carries this movie, which veers into the lame territory at times, but overall is a pretty good movie for a feel-good movie.
  27. PhyllisG.
    Sep 24, 2006
    10
    This movie was very educational and touching.
  28. PaulD.
    Jan 14, 2007
    6
    Appealing, but just too formulaic, unbelievable and predictable to rise above a run-of-the-mill Karate Kid type story.
  29. Jun 2, 2015
    0
    This movie is AWFUL, I can't believe it got a 72, it deserves a 7.2. We're watching this in class, and I wish we were actually doing classwork instead of watching it, that's how bad it is. There's a cliche every 5 seconds and it's insanely cringe worthy at almost all moments, it's not even remotely realistic, how do people like this? **** this movie.
  30. Aug 5, 2013
    7
    Akeelah and the Bee 7/10..............................................................................................................................
  31. Sep 20, 2013
    7
    You will be amazed by this movies ability to make you laugh and cry at the same time; and Keke Palmer is just great. There are some flaws, but 75% of the movie is on par.
  32. Apr 7, 2015
    6
    akeelah and the bee is a decent film. the problem is that I think something they take the spelling bee to serious. but other then that I say this is a decent film.
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Blessed with excellent turns by Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, this feel-gooder revels in its hip-to-be-square hyperliteracy, and neatly exceeds its own PSA-ness, practically amounting to a black, preteen "Good Will Hunting."
  2. Effectively anchoring the picture is Keke Palmer's lovely lead performance as Akeelah Anderson.
  3. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    70
    This earnest weepie plays like "The Karate Kid" with a pro-literacy agenda, pushing all the right emotional buttons yet hitting quite a few wrong ones in the process.