Dave's Rating:

4.5

… tons of charm …

Who's in It: Keke Palmer, Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne

The Basics: Finally a sports movie for people who hate sports. That's because the sport in question is spelling really hard words no one in real life ever uses unless they're Gore Vidal.

What's the Deal? Movies like this, you can see them coming from five miles away. You've seen it before. You know how it's going to end. You know that you're going to feel good when it's over. They engineer these sorts of things that way. You kind of have no choice. But then you watch it, and your crankiness melts away because the kid is charming and the movie is sweet and you just go with it and root for her to spell the big words. Yes, I'm getting soft.

Hello, Dakota Fanning? I've Come to Steal Your Career: Keke Palmer is that rare kid actor who doesn't come off as phony. She's got obvious smarts and tons of charm to burn. You get the feeling she's not even using everything she's got, she just seems natural and effortlessly cool.

S-T-A-R-B-U-C-K-S: Yes, they're in the movie business now. Oh, why not. That's why when you go into a Starbucks now, they've got vocabulary words plastered all over the place.

Quick Guide to Other Spelling-Bee Movies: Spellbound is the documentary with all the lovably geeky real kids in it. It's more genuinely dramatic than this one, but it doesn't have the warm fuzzy glow. Bee Season is the mystical weirdo art film by comparison. Also, kind of a bummer.

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