Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 23 Ratings

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  • Summary: This documentary presents the intense, true-life experience of the National Spelling Bee as seen through the eyes of eight driven, young spellers. (ThinkFilm)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. Reviewed by: Carla Meyer
    100
    Resembles a Christopher Guest movie in that it follows obsessed, socially awkward folks on a seminal journey in their lives.
  2. 91
    The end result is the best documentary you'll see this year, as thrilling a competition as any Super Bowl and as suspenseful a story as any Hitchcock film.
  3. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    90
    The movie becomes a nail-biter, the audience hanging on every letter. Who could have anticipated that a spelling competition would yield such a heartbreaking thriller?
  4. Consider it an athletic contest of the mind--ESPN does, as the sports network regularly televises the finals.
  5. 75
    As we watch them drilling with flashcards and worksheets, we hope they will win, but we're not sure what good it will do them.
  6. 70
    Draws an unspoken parallel with, of all things, beauty pageants, complete with unnaturally driven kids and nervously supportive parents desperately trying not to appear too pushy.
  7. 50
    Many of the kids seem to be social outcasts of one kind or another, but Spellbound, which will show on cable later this year, doesn't dig deep enough to disturb the movie's relentless feel-good tone.

See all 34 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Jan 22, 2012
    9
    This movie completely changed my outlook on life. I was 7 when I first saw it in theaters, and I was completely blown away. I was very impressionable, as so many 7 year olds are, and for the first month or so after I watched it, I had it decided that I too, was going to be a spelling bee kid. Obviously I didn't really stick with my plans of being a nationally ranked speller, but, a year ago, when I watched the movie again, I realized the impact this film had on me had just about nothing to do with spelling. Spellbound provides revealing insight on being the best, regardless of what hobby, sport, or subject you're trying to excel at. Surprisingly compelling, Spellbound ranks near the top of my list as far as documentaries go. Expand

See all 16 User Reviews

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