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An Entertaining Gem,
This review is from: Spellbound (DVD)
A documentary about spelling bees by no means sounds like something the average person would call entertaining. However, ignoring any initial hesitation one might have, this film is definitely worth seeing and is an unique, funny, and overall entertaining experience.
The subject matter is basic enough; the film chronicles eight hopefuls vying for a chance to win the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Each of these eight are truly unique characters, hailing from all over the country and with completely different traits; they represent a true cross-section of our nation. We are given an initial overview into of all of the children's lives, before we are led on to the national competition itself. From this instant we realize that we have some true characters on our hands and that the dedication and intelligence found in some of these children is remarkable. From here I was hooked; anyone who is a sucker for human interest stories will find this flick quite endearing.
Once we reach the national level of the competition, the film takes an entirely different turn. The filmmakers manage to capture the intensity of the competition- the pressure the spellers themselves face, standing in front of the crowd and television cameras, the anxiety that the parents feel, hanging on every letter, and the pure joy of getting a word correct. Never in my life had I imagined a spelling bee could be so exciting, yet here I was in front of my television screen, rooting on my favorites like I would my favorite sports star. For the most part, all the spellers and their parents are likeable, however a few of them can be irking at times.
Each person will have a speller that they can identify with, and this is what makes the film truly special. Speaking of this, one of the most interesting bonus features is the "Where Are They Now" portion. The rest of the bonus material is nothing to speak of, but this is not why one would by the DVD in the first place.
Spellbound won the 2002 Academy Award for best documentary, a well-deserved recognition. This film is truly something special, a treat for the entire family. No amazing visuals, nothing to straight out blow you away- just pure, innocent family entertainment; something that is needed terribly these days. Although it is not something one would typically grab for right away, the sheer entertainment value warrants it a viewing. Highly recommended.