Box art for Akeelah and the Bee

Akeelah and the Bee

children & family, drama

Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer), from south Los Angeles, has a talent for words. In spite of the objections of her mother Wanda (Angela Bassett), Keke enters a spelling contest.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 8
1 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Positive messages
5 out of 5
Sexy Stuff
1 out of 5
Violence & scariness
2 out of 5
Positive role models
5 out of 5

Inspiring drama about a champion speller; OK for tweens.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that the movie includes mild language (the s-word) and early on, some "attitude" from the young girl at its center. But her "ghetto" vernacular is a show to try to "fit in," a thematic concern throughout the film, for the girl and adults around her. A related theme is coping with loss; a couple of sad conversations recall the deaths of loved ones (one by gun violence, another by disease), and divorce. Characters lie to protect loved ones, and must make amends. In a couple of scenes, the mother and daughter argue. A couple of women characters wear tight tops; the girl's coach has a drink one evening alone.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the importance of pursuing one's interests and dreams, especially as this can inspire collaborations. How does Akeelah's success inspire others to feel part of a group, as her spelling becomes a community project? How can you be true to lost loved ones by moving forward into the future?
  • How is the issue of overly competitive parents addressed in the film?
  • How is Akeelah's school contrasted with the suburban school she goes to to practice spelling and hang out with her new friends?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: As much a fantasy as Lord of the Rings.

- Neil Smith, BBC, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Precious movie. One of the BEST that I've seen in a very long time.

- crazydannielle16, Tuesday, May 22, 2007

3 stars

A very heartfelt film with an excellent performance by Lawrence Fishburne whilst Keke Palmer was very watchable as young Akeelah, who pursues her dream of competing in the national Spelling Bee! It was funny, heartbreaking and uplifting.

- xxdebxx, Monday, August 2, 2010

3 stars

Opts to coast by on sheer gumption and an eternally optimistic spirit that is all too familiar.

- wbgoose13, Sunday, November 26, 2006