Akeelah And The Bee review

You’ll have a lump in your throat during this heart-tugger, even if its spelling-bee setting has been done to death of late in Spellbound and Bee Season. Familiarity, though, doesn’t really hurt this tale of an 11-year-old brainiac (Keke Palmer) from south-central LA who is steered to the national finals by her coach (Laurence Fishburne). Angela Bassett plays the heroine’s mum, though her scenes with Fishburne are too sporadic to hail this as a What’s Love Got To Do With It reunion.

Thanks to the inbuilt drama of spelling competitions, Doug Atchison’s movie has enough tension, humour and emotion to extenuate Starbucks’ participation as one of its six producers and the laughable way Akeelah’s entire community, from the postie right down to her bro’s gangsta homies, unite to give her etymological pointers.

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