User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 25 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 25
  2. Negative: 1 out of 25

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  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 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. Collapse
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. MichelleP.II
    Sep 12, 2003
    4
    In response to John H.- yes, I did get it. I understood the story, purpose, etc. No, I am not a Star Wars fan. By the way, liking movies is a matter of opinion. I said I wanted to like this film, and scaring me into liking it is just plain idiotic. I am not a fan of documentaries which may be the reason I didn't enjoy this film. Well-done, but it didn't capture my attention well In response to John H.- yes, I did get it. I understood the story, purpose, etc. No, I am not a Star Wars fan. By the way, liking movies is a matter of opinion. I said I wanted to like this film, and scaring me into liking it is just plain idiotic. I am not a fan of documentaries which may be the reason I didn't enjoy this film. Well-done, but it didn't capture my attention well enough. I'm glad you liked this movie better than I did, but that's no reason to go bashing other reviewers. Expand
  8. 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.
  9. [Anonymous]
    Jul 26, 2003
    9
    I was spellbound by this movie. Didn't blink at all.
  10. 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
  11. MichelleP.
    Jun 29, 2003
    4
    Hearing about the great reviews, how "compelling" and "suspensful" the movie was, I decided to give it a shot. The movie started out pretty good, with getting introduced to the spellers and such, but after a while, it began to drag and I didn't care about who was winning or losing. Not to mention it was bringing back all the pressure and horror in my days of school (when right now, Hearing about the great reviews, how "compelling" and "suspensful" the movie was, I decided to give it a shot. The movie started out pretty good, with getting introduced to the spellers and such, but after a while, it began to drag and I didn't care about who was winning or losing. Not to mention it was bringing back all the pressure and horror in my days of school (when right now, it's summer and I should be relaxing), and I couldn't help but think, "What's the point? This whole competition (sp?) is taking away their joy and happiness, and they're not doing it because they enjoy spelling, or because they'll change the world by doing this, but because they either: just want the trophy, or they want to show something they're good at/show they're better than everyone else. Why??" The reason I didn't find it suspensful may be because spelling bees are more thrilling if someone you know, who's your friend, relative, etc. is competing (sp?) in it. I really wanted to get into it, I really wanted to love it and give it a 10, but movies are about entertaining and I was barely entertained. I'm not trying to offend anyone, but if I did, I'm very sorry. (And I'm sorry if I spelled any words wrong). Expand
  12. PaulD.
    Jun 26, 2003
    8
    Compellingly involving.
  13. RandyW.
    May 20, 2003
    10
    Brillantly edited, paced, and compelling. A documentary with drama and suspense - this is a fine piece of work.
  14. JeanR.
    May 9, 2003
    10
    Simply amazing.
  15. 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?
  16. KevinB.
    May 1, 2003
    9
    One of the most well-made and entertaining documentaries I've seen.
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.