Akeelah and the Bee—Lionsgate

Video: 5
Audio: 4
Extras: 4

Akeelah and the Bee is a moving story about a precocious “tweenager.” She discovers she is more than the sum of her spelling parts and helps others around her realize their own abilities to become powerful beyond measure. Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett reunite in this inspirational tale of hope, audacity, and some very hard-to-spell words. Fishburne gives an impeccable performance as the candid Dr. Larabee, who guides Akeelah to the national spelling bee under his rigorous tutelage.

While Akeelah is not a film that requires special effects or digital enhancements, the 2.35:1 anamorphic picture’s quality is mostly stunning. The details are precise, but the colors and lighting sometimes appear to be muted. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack exhibits enough clarity and sound quality so that you never miss a word—misspelled or otherwise—and it enlivens the upbeat score. Extras include a featurette on the movie’s making, along with “Two Peas in a Pod,” illustrating the special relationship that developed during filming between actress Keke Palmer and director Doug Atchison. Gag reels and deleted scenes complete the special features.

This is not just a story about a girl from the hood who can spell. This compelling film has its own share of surprises and other converging stories that eventually come full circle. Akeelah and the Bee is a touching, uplifting celluloid treasure and certainly one you should B-U-Y.

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