User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 26 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 26
  2. Negative: 1 out of 26

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  1. DavetheWave
    Jan 30, 2004
    9
    A terrific little movie. I'm amazed that a film about the National Spelling Bee could grip me for 97 minutes. It's definitely worth seeing.
  2. MarcK.
    Aug 6, 2004
    8
    Very good, but not great. I was particularly taken by the tall girl from New Mexico who's parents only spoke Spanish. Since I saw it on DVD, I wish we had had an explanation of the decision-making process as to why the three contestants who were left out of the movie were left out, as opposed to the ones who stayed in. I thought 2 of the 3 who were omitted actually would have been Very good, but not great. I was particularly taken by the tall girl from New Mexico who's parents only spoke Spanish. Since I saw it on DVD, I wish we had had an explanation of the decision-making process as to why the three contestants who were left out of the movie were left out, as opposed to the ones who stayed in. I thought 2 of the 3 who were omitted actually would have been more compelling than the boy who lived on the farm and shot archery with his brother. And, while it is not politically correct to say, some of the kids shown in that spelling bee were incredible geeks! Expand
  3. KevinB.
    May 1, 2003
    9
    One of the most well-made and entertaining documentaries I've seen.
  4. RogerG.
    May 3, 2003
    9
    It began as a movie about a spelling bee, and became a movie about America. Who thought a movie about a spelling bee could be enthralling?
  5. JeanR.
    May 9, 2003
    10
    Simply amazing.
  6. [Anonymous]
    Jul 26, 2003
    9
    I was spellbound by this movie. Didn't blink at all.
  7. JohnH.
    Sep 8, 2003
    9
    Obviously, Michelle P. didn't get it...she should go rent Star Wars: Attack of the Drones for the 3rd time.
  8. ChristopherJ.
    Mar 20, 2007
    7
    A documentary that exposes the lifestyles of the nerdy and almost-famous spelling bee contest. The kids are fascinating and the parents are what you'd expect them to be: strange.
  9. RandyW.
    May 20, 2003
    10
    Brillantly edited, paced, and compelling. A documentary with drama and suspense - this is a fine piece of work.
  10. PaulD.
    Jun 26, 2003
    8
    Compellingly involving.
  11. ChadS.
    Jul 15, 2003
    10
    "Spellbound" won't lose anything if you choose to see it on home video or cable in terms of visual impact. The reason to see this doc at your local theater is to be part of a rooting section. You'll hear genuine laughter, a smattering of claps, and when a child misses, a chorus of gasps. "Spellbound" is not a passive moviegoing experience. It's not the best movie of 2003, "Spellbound" won't lose anything if you choose to see it on home video or cable in terms of visual impact. The reason to see this doc at your local theater is to be part of a rooting section. You'll hear genuine laughter, a smattering of claps, and when a child misses, a chorus of gasps. "Spellbound" is not a passive moviegoing experience. It's not the best movie of 2003, but it might be the most fun. Expand
  12. Patrick
    Jun 19, 2004
    8
    Infectiously full of life and drama. The Documentarians at the heart of this film capture a seemingly boring topic in such a way that it feels more like another Christopher Guest romp than a true story. But that's just the fun, as we are shown the personalities of 8 Spelling Bee hopefuls and led into their borderline pathological worlds.
  13. KevinE.
    Mar 7, 2005
    7
    I expected a bit more based on the high praise of the reviews when it was released. A closer look at what shared geek-ology unites these children (and their parents) would have added interest. In the end, it was a mildly engaging, straight-forward documentary, nothing really new.
  14. 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 yearThis 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
Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. 89
    As good, old-fashioned dorkfests go, it doesn't get much better than the National Spelling Bee, with its arcane words, bespectacled competitors, and stinging little bell.
  2. More to the point of this marvelous film, who knew there were kids as heroic, in their various ways, as these valiant super-spellers?
  3. Entertaining documentary.