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Akeelah and the Bee

Do you like watching nail-biting spelling bees on ESPN? Always win when playing Scrabble against your friends and family? Know how to spell scherenschnitte (the art of paper-cutting) without grabbing the dictionary? If so, the 2006 drama Akeelah and the Bee might be the feel-good movie you’re looking for. The film follows title character Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer), an 11-year-old girl from South Los Angeles, who advances to the Scripps National Spelling Bee with the help of her English teacher Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne) and initially reluctant mother Tanya (Angela Bassett). Director Doug Atchison, who still hasn’t made a film since Akeelah (what?!), received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowship for the film, which (trivia alert) is the only movie ever produced by Starbucks (F-R-A-P-P-U-C-C-I-N-O). Back in 2006, I called Akeelah “a great family film with a purpose” and lauded Palmer for her strong performance. After her breakout role in Akeelah, Palmer went to star on Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP for three seasons. This year, she will join the cast of the rebooted third season of the MTV series Scream, which is based on the horror movie franchise of the same name.

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