Chicago Sun-Times

By Roger Ebert
Keke Palmer, a young Chicago actress whose first role was as Queen Latifah's niece in "Barbershop 2," becomes an important young star with this movie. It puts her in Dakota Fanning and Thora Cross territory, and there's something about her poise and self-possession that hints she will grow up to be a considerable actress.
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Boston Globe

By Wesley Morris
All the gears, in fact, are shamelessly visible, yet they lock smoothly and resonantly into place. If Akeelah and the Bee is a generic, well-oiled commercial contraption, it is the first to credibly dramatize the plight of a truly gifted, poor black child.
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Entertainment Weekly

By Scott Brown
Blessed with excellent turns by Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, this feel-gooder revels in its hip-to-be-square hyperliteracy, and neatly exceeds its own PSA-ness, practically amounting to a black, preteen "Good Will Hunting."
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The climactic spelling bee sequence is as tautly written and edited as any gridiron drama, and Palmer's performance here is truly gripping.
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Philadelphia Inquirer

By Carrie Rickey
In its final act, Akeelah is as exciting as any Final Four matchup. What it may lack in cinematic art it compensates for in abecedarian adrenaline guaranteed to pump the pulse and the spirits of viewers from 10 to 90.
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New York Daily News

By Jack Mathews
I'm not sure how tolerable this would be without Palmer's charm, because this is a formulated script where everything is tied up in perfect bows, just like life isn't.
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San Francisco Chronicle

By Ruthe Stein
Akeelah and the Bee connects where it counts most, on an emotional level. Only a curmudgeon could watch this feisty but vulnerable youngster rack up victories against all odds without tearing up.
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TV Guide

By Maitland McDonagh
Sentimental, manipulative, predictable and utterly charming.
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The Hollywood Reporter

By Michael Rechtshaffen
Effectively anchoring the picture is Keke Palmer's lovely lead performance as Akeelah Anderson.
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USA Today

By Claudia Puig
You could be cynical about the first movie produced by the coffee colossus Starbucks. But there's nothing cynical about Akeelah's story of courage and determination.
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72 out of 100
Generally favorable reviews
Metascore® based on all critic reviews. Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.