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Starring: Harry Altman, Angela Arenivar, Ted Brigham, Neil Kadakia, April Degideo, Ashley White, Emily Stagg, and Nupar Lala.
Directed by: Jeff Blitz

Buy It Here
DVD Features:

  • Widescreen/Full-screen format
  • Rated: G
  • Commentary by filmmakers
  • Theatrical trailer(s)
  • Bonus footage
  • Where are they now? updates on all 8 profiled spellers
  • Interactive Hangman game: deluxe edition
  • Educational guide: includes Host Your Own Spelling Bee kit and more...
  • Blunt Review Below

Spellbound - 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!

Stop 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 sports players.

Being 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.

We 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.

They all are. But even the best spellers need study…

Bee 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.

Another 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.

Snack recommendation: Alphabet soup and Salmon (rich in Omega 3 - brain food)

The Emilyism©


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