Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett do well in this film, but admittedly these are roles that both actors could pull off with their eyes closed. The young woman Keke Palmer is the true star (as well as a dead ringer for a pre-teen Angela Bassett). Palmer does an excellent job of being nerdy/silly/confident/vulnerable—in a word—she performs the frailty of strength that childhood embodies really well. Not to be outdone are J.R. Villarreal, who plays Javier another one of the spelling bee contestants who quickly befriends Akeelah, and Sahara Garey (Georgia) Akeelah’s best friend in her South Central neighborhood. Villareal and Garey help anchor Palmer in the two worlds she has to navigate.
It’s a great film to not only take your kids/younger siblings/mentees to see, but also one to really sit down and talk with them over whether they understand what happened on screen. The lessons imparted in Akeelah and the Bee will also resonate with adults seeking to revive their connections to their communities and a younger generation that is not as foreign or as “insolent” as adults often presume.
Akeelah and the Bee while its in theatres you are exponentially increasing the likelihood that you will have to engage/suffer another discussion about lack of support for positive images of African-Americans within the next month.
Also, if you check it out, leave a comment so that I could know what you thought about it--this way I'll know whether to keep future movie recommendations to myself.