Rated NR

Following Spellbound and Bee Season is this inspirational tearjerker by writer/director Doug Atchison. Keke Palmer’s charisma fills the screen as the titular precocious prodigy from South Central Los Angeles, where “brainiac” is practically a curse word. Akeelah hides her spelling smarts until an empowering English professor (Laurence Fishburne) coaches her for the National Spelling Bee. Despite her stressed-out widowed mother’s disapproval, Akeelah discovers the confidence she needs to compete—and to turn the tough kids into supportive and accepting peers. This latest spelling-bee flick is distinguished from the rest thanks to the powerful and compelling performance by Palmer and her character’s knack for pulling at your heart strings.


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