A Film Review Blog

My Photo
Location: Dallas, TX
We Have A Mailing List! Subscribe Here!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

I am wary of films that feature cute, precocious children because, more often than not, those kids can be awfully irritating. Akeelah and the Bee, however, manages to do the impossible: it presents the audience with a film about lovable, three-dimensional kids behaving with rare and inspiration integrity. There is something truly genuine (if not totally realistic) about this movie.

Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer)is a smart 11-year-old girl who knows how to spell. She can spell better than anyone else in her neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles, and some of her teachers think she can spell better than anyone in the whole country. Her tutor is Dr. Larabee (Lawrence Fishburne) a slightly obsessive man who teaches her to dissect and analyze words. He also teaches her that she can achieve greatness, even though a lot of her schoolmates tell her she cannot.

The film touches on a very big problem in American schools today: discrimination against bright young kids. In a lot of economically challenged schools, where the teachers can only hope that their students even show up for class, the kids with brains are immediately pounded and demonized by their peers (and are often forgotten by the overworked and disenchated faculty). The film shows the stark difference between rich and poor schools when Akeelah takes a trip to a school in the wealthy Woodland Hills district, where the kids have study groups with each other and stay after school to work on science projects.

Let me get off my soap box for a while and get back to the kids. These kids are cute and immensely talented. My all-time favorite was Javier (J.R. Villarreal) the absolutely adorable 12-year-old who likes Akeelah and interacts with her with an innocence that children seem to have lost. He's so fun to watch, he nearly stole every scene he was in. And of course, there is Keke Palmer, who is an absolute joy to behold. Sure the movie has one too many inspiring musical montages, and sure there are an awful lot of flashback shots to endure, but watching her act made all of the minor flaws in the film disappear. I hope that she continues acting (I think she has the poise and skill to make a graceful transition from child actor to adult actor).

Go see Akeelah and the Bee if you have kids. Go see if if you don't have kids. It cheered me up, and I'm about as cynical as the day is long.

The amount of money I'd pay to see this movie: $7


Post a Comment

<< Home