Starring: Harry Altman, Angela Arenivar, Ted Brigham, Neil
Kadakia, April Degideo, Ashley White, Emily Stagg, and Nupar Lala.
Directed by: Jeff Blitz
are they now? updates on all 8 profiled spellers
Hangman game: deluxe edition
guide: includes Host Your Own Spelling Bee kit and
- not a remake of Bergman the classic - grows on you. The filmmakers
follow the paths of eight young spelling bee contestants. And
their's a tense hard-earned road that ultimately leads these intelligent
kids to a position in the "Bee" at the coveted National
Spelling Bee in Washington DC. Who'd have thought a film about
recreational spelling would be so completely entertaining!
laughing, this film has high drama, intense emotion, some great
story-telling, and a heaping helping of Americana infused with
full-on humor. These would-be bee champions and their parents,
truly get into this. I for one was completely unaware (the love
of documentaries again rewards the viewer) there was this much
hoopla around - good spellers. ESPN even airs the finals and the
winners are bombarded in a media frenzy equal to trillion dollar
one of the world's worst spellers I was in awe as children
whipped out words like serosanguinous (s-e-r-o-s-a-n-g-u-i-n-o-u-s)
within nanoseconds; with the definition thank you!
Even more fascinating then their verbal talents was the family
dynamics we were privy to. Each of the eight children opens their
lives to us.
hear an all-American tale about the hardships the parents of bee
contender Angela faced. They risked it all to travel from Mexico
to give their children a better life and education. Angela's obviously
(o-b-v-i-o-u-s-l-y) given them one helluva smile for their hardships.
This kid is brilliant.
all are. But even the best spellers need study
boy Neil's parents takes the spelling bee a tad too seriously
and while Neil still "hangs" with his friends and takes
it all in stride. His family is wealthy and Neil is tutored by
several "word" coaches while being perpetually (p-e-r-p-e-t-u-a-l-l-y)
drilled by his father on a plethora (p-l-e-t-h-o-r-a) of different
words night and day.
child, Ted, faces that "oddball" side of life as a genius
amongst the "normal" folk, another is Ashley. Ashley,
an angel, resides within a neighborhood filled with dirty faces.
The other fave was Harry
Harry is scrumptiously oblivious
to his wacky, dare I say, geeky ways. He tells the world's worst
jokes but sells them with a grandiose commitment that has you
positively roaring back at him on the screen.
At times your biting your nails in anticipation - like you have
something at stake with these kids
at other times filmmakers,
director Jeff Blitz and producer Sean Welch, got a bit melodramatic
and a tighter editing hand would have kept you from straying mentally.
But, if you dig docs and those intimate realistic human infused
films that are increasingly so hard to come by, run and see this
delightful multiple award winning piece.
recommendation: Alphabet soup and Salmon (rich in Omega 3
- brain food)