Donald Liebenson
January 23, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Spellbound

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
G
runtime
97 minutes
Limited Release Date
04/30/03
director
Jeffrey Blitz
distributor
THINKFilm
genre
Documentary

We gave it an A-

A film that makes the spelling of logorrhea as exciting as anything in a Jerry Bruckheimer blow-’em-up is something of a miracle. The uplifting Oscar-nominated documentary profiles eight culturally and racially diverse young contestants in the 1999 National Spelling Bee. At the heart of the movie is the sense of identity such spelling prowess gives these ”bright kids,” and the palpable sense of community they feel in the presence of their accomplished peers. ”Here, she’s accepted,” one mother gushes at the Washington, D.C., competition. ”Here, she’s popular.” EXTRAS ”Where Are They Now?” updates confirm that each speller is pursuing higher education rather than 15 minutes of fame. Too bad 10-year-old Allyson Lieberman, giggling over the word callipygian (look it up) in bonus footage, didn’t make Spellbound‘s final cut.

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