Akeelah and the Bee (2006) Script

You know that feeling where no matter what you do or where you go you just don't fit in?

I don't know the word for that.

Alienation, estrangement... incompatibility? Naw, those ain't right.

But there's gotta be a word for it, because that's how I feel all the time.

My name's Akeelah Anderson and I'm 11 years old.

And this all starts at Crenshaw Middle School in South Los Angeles.

You're all in the seventh grade now and I know you can do better than this.

So when I give you a list of words, study them.

Akeelah!

How long did you study for this spelling test?

I didn't.

See me after class. Okay, you two need to turn around.

Enough!

You know, you could be one of my very best students.

But you don't turn in half your homework.

Sometimes you don't even show up for class.

What's going on? I don't know.

Have you heard of... have you heard of next week's spelling bee?

No.

Well, I think you should sign up for it.

Does he really think I'm gonna be walking around with somebody in little shorts like that? He crazy!

Ooh, is Devon coming back today? Yeah. Got a two-week leave.

Your brother is fine! I got it all figured out... look.

He gonna be the pilot on a big commercial jet and I'm gonna be the flight attendant.

Got any change for an old man, girls?

Ain't got no change for myself.

Damn, Derrick-T's new ride is tight!

He's been trying to get Terrence in trouble.

Girl, your bro can get his own self in trouble.

So what'd Ms. Cross want? Nothin'.

Just talking about some stupid-ass spelling bee.

You gonna do it?

You'd probably be good. And get up in front of everybody?

I'd probably pee in my pants.

Tell me about the boy in your class with the itty-bitty shorts.

I think he's cute.

Yes!

Yes!

Keelie, Mama says go eat. I'm about to get a high score.

One minute. I don't care.

Mama says go eat!

Oh yeah! I've been dreaming about your cooking for the past five months.

Let me take that.

At least I got one baby appreciate what I do around here.

We all appreciate you. Hey... give me some sugar.

Where is Terrence? I don't know. Maybe still at practice.

Practice was over an hour ago. I know one thing... he better not be hanging out with no Derrick-T.

Derrick-T? That fool still alive?

Not after you get done with him. That's right.

Hey, you. So... how many planes have you shot down so far?

So far zero. But you don't do too much shooting sitting behind a computer screen in Nevada. Oooh, good.

You stay on the ground. Let them white boys go up there.

You stay down here where you belong. Mama, I'm gonna have my wings and my college degree before you know it... unless this one beats me to it.

Not skipping class with Georgia Cavanaugh, she won't.

Skipping class? Only PE.

You better not be skipping no class. Akeelah, go turn off that television.

Hey, hey... flip it over to ESPN real quick and let me check out that Laker score, all right?

I need you to talk to Terrence...

... no more poisonous sprays, no more glue traps, and no more throwing your money away. The scientific design of the...

If you spell the next word correctly, you will be the champion.

What's this? Akeelah, turn off the TV now.

- "Brunneous." B...

R-U-N...

N-E-O-U-S.

Brunneous. - Congratulations.

You are the Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion.

Akeelah needs to listen!

Turn it off now!

Brunneous... brunneous?

"Brunneous: dark brown; used chiefly scientifically."

Well, why can't they just say brown?

Daddy, have you ever heard of this word?

Yeah, probably did.

Cauterize, C-A-U-T-E-R-I-Z-E.

Fortification, F-O-R-T-I-F-I-C-A-T-I-O-N.

Correspond, C-O-R-R-E-S-P-O-N-D...

... construction on our northeast lot, traffic will be directed to the side alley.

This will be through the month. Drop-offs will be from the south gate.

Hey, freak.

We want you to take care of our English homework.

Everybody say you a brainiac. I ain't no brainiac.

Like hell you ain't! Always got them A's down, right?

Yeah, she's scared of us.

Don't run away...

I cannot thank you enough for coming down here today, Josh.

I've got the district breathing down my back.

The test scores have gone down again this year.

As I said earlier, I appreciate your dilemma, Bob, but I really don't understand what it is I have to offer.

No no no, all I want you to do is look at these kids and tell me if you think my idea's crazy.

I think some of them have a lot of potential.

Girls! Why aren't you in class?

She holding us up. Akeelah!

Are you signed up for the spelling bee today?

No.

I want you to come to my office, please.

So, Ms. Cross tells me you've never missed a word on your spelling tests.

But your attendance record leaves a little to be desired.

You're 11, did you skip a grade? The second.

Akeelah, have you ever heard of the Scripps National Spelling Bee?

I think it was on TV last week. Yes!

Yes, they show it on ESPN every year.

Middle school students from all over the country compete in school district and regional spelling bees trying to make it to the national spelling bee in Washington DC.

Next year, I want one of our students there.

So whoever wins the school bee today gets to represent Crenshaw at the district bee next month. Why would anybody want to represents a school that can't even put doors on the toilet stalls?

Akeelah, if we can't show our students can perform, we're not going to have money for books, let alone bathroom doors.

Now, I want you to do the bee today, all right?

So everybody can call me a freak and a brainiac?

No, I ain't down for no spelling bee.

Well, maybe you'd be "down" for spending the rest of the semester in detention for all of your absences.

I'd like to welcome you all to Crenshaw's first schoolwide spelling bee.

We have some very special students competing today, so let's give them all a round of applause.

Whoo!

Okay, we drew numbers to see who would go first, and that's Chuckie Johnson from the eighth grade.

Mr. Welch, I have a question about the basketball nets.

Chuckie! You need to pay attention.

Now, we're gonna start things off with "grovel."

Gravel, like little rocks?

No, grovel like get down on your knees and grovel.

Get down on my knees? What?!

Just spell the word.

Uh, G-R...

A-V-E-L.

No, Chuckie, you spelled gravel.

I meant grovel: G-R-O-V-E-L.

You weren't listening. I'm sorry, Chuckie.

Who cares? Okay, next up, Akeelah Anderson.

Oh, you go, girl!

Akeelah, your word is "doubt."

Doubt. D-O-U-B-T.

I'm sorry, Akeelah, you have to speak up.

D-O-U-B-T.

Very good.

Next, Calvin Baker...

P-L-A-S-I-D.

Placid.

I'm sorry, it's P-L-A-C-I-D.

Okay, Akeelah, if you get this word you will be the winner. "Fanciful."

Fan... F-A-N-C-I-F-U-L.

Whoa. That is correct, and you have won Crenshaw's inaugural spelling bee.

Whoo!

Whatever.

Excuse me.

Spell "prestidigitation."

I'm sorry, sir, but this girl is only 11, and she's already won. Mr. Welch, what is this?

Prestidigitation, can you spell it?

P-R-E-S-T-I-D-I-G-I-T-A-T-I-O-N, prestidigitation.

That's correct.

Whoo!

"Ambidextrous." A-M-B-I-D-E-X-T-R-O-U-S.

"Pterodactyl." P-T-E-R-O-D-A-C-T-Y-L.

"Pulchritude." P...

P-U-L-C...

R...

I-T-U-D-E... pulchritude?

That's incorrect. It's from the Latin root "pulcher" and there's an H after the C.

See? She ain't so smart.

Run for it! See ya! Bye, sweetie.

Akeelah, wait!

Where are you going? You did great.

You were spelling words I don't know how to spell.

Mr. Welch, I told you I did not want to do this. They're laughing at me.

They laugh because you intimidate them.

But if you'd stood your ground, you might have earned their respect.

Bob, the girl has potential but she needs to be coached.

Do you know who that was?

That was Dr. Joshua Larabee.

He used to chair the English department at UCLA.

He and I went to college together. But get this... when he was a kid, he went all the way to the national spelling bee.

And he thinks you have a chance of going there yourself.

I'm sorry, but I ain't doin' no more spelling bees.

Akeelah...

Girl, you kicked some major booty on that stage today.

But I couldn't spell pulchritude.

But you knocked all them other words right back at that dude.

They were just trick words. Everybody knows pterodactyl starts with a P.

Girl, if I could spell like you, I know I could be a flight attendant.

Keelie, hey, wake up.

Hey.

Dev, are you leaving? Yeah, gotta get back to the base.

Hey, your principal called Mama.

Said you did real good in the spelling bee last week.

I messed up a word. - He said you got a lot of them right.

He also said you've got an opportunity to go to an even bigger contest next week.

I don't want to do it. Why not?

Everybody's gonna be looking at me and there's gonna be tons of words I don't know.

So you're scared, huh?

How do you think I felt the first time I had to jump out of an airplane?

I mean, my whole body said "Don't do it."

But sometimes your brain gotta be smarter than your body, you know?

But I don't like my school.

I don't see why I gotta do anything for them.

Then do it for Dad.

I mean, you know how he was about words.

He'd have loved to see you do something like this.

What'd Mama say about it? You know how Mama is.

She got a million things to worry about.

Tell you what, just do this contest, and if you make it all the way to DC, I will parachute down to see you.

Would you like that?

That is a wonderful decision, Akeelah, a wonderful decision.

You think maybe the school could buy me a new outfit, you know, for the district bee?

Uh... I don't know, maybe.

If you make it to the state regional, maybe something could be arranged.

But you're gonna have to finish in the top 10 at the district level first.

And, Akeelah, you're going to be going up against kids from Santa Monica, Woodland Hills, Beverly Hills.

Some of these kids have been doing this for years and never even made it to DC.

Well, maybe I should just give up now. No no no.

No, I'm just saying you need to train hard.

With Dr. Larabee. What?

I don't need any help from him. I could do this on my own.

Akeelah, the best spellers in the world have coaches.

I finally got him to consider taking some time during his sabbatical to work with you.

Please, just talk with him.

Here. He doesn't live far from here.

He lives in this neighborhood?

I thought you said he was important.

And take this, it's a copy of last year's spelling bee.

- "Sacciform." - May I have the definition, please?

Resembling a pouch.

May I have the language of origin, please?

- Latin. Latin?

I thought this was supposed to be English.

... I-F-O-R...

"Scutellate"? Can I have the definition?

"Longicollis."

"Ginglymus." "Empennage."

"Souchong." "Intussusception."

Hey, what's dat? - Any alternate pronunciations?

Where you been? Mama's worried.

Mama should just chill, a'ight?

What you looking at? Spelling bee.

Oh yeah, I heard about that.

You going up against a bunch of rich white kids.

They gonna tear your black ass up.

Intussusception is I-N-T-U-S-S-U-S-C-E-P-T-I-O-N.


You're late.

You didn't answer the door. That's because you're late.

Come in.

Come come come.

So... you want to learn how to spell. I know how to spell.

Spell "staphylococci." Um...

S-T-A-F...

There is no F. It's derived from the Greek so there can't be an F.

Staphylococci: S-T-A...

P-H-Y...

L-O-C-O...

C-C-I.

Winning word, national spelling bee

1987.

The first thing most serious spellers do is learn all of the winning words and their origins.

Well, maybe I ain't that serious.

Maybe neither am I.

So why are you home during the day?

Ain't you got a job? - Do me a favor, leave the ghetto talk outside, all right?

Ghetto talk? I don't talk ghetto.

Hm, "ain't you got no job?"

You use that language to fit in with your friends.

Here you will speak properly or you won't speak at all.

- Understood? Yeah.

Whatever.

You can leave now. Excuse me?

I said you can leave. How come?

Because I don't have time to waste on insolent little girls.

Insolent? I ain't insol...

I mean I'm not insolent.

It's just the first thing you do is start doggin' on... criticizing the way I speak.

I thought this was just about spelling words.

Well then, fine.

You know what?

When I put my mind to it, I can memorize anything.

And I don't need help from a dictatorial, truculent, supercilious gardener.

I'm sorry to be so insolent.

Lymphomatotic: L-Y-M... Laboratory: L-A-B-O-R...

Preglacial...

Irreferable: I-R-R...

Erythroplasia: E-R-Y-T-H...

Microzoospore... - Hey.

Baby, what are you still doing up?

I've gotta learn more words.

You gonna come see me in the district bee this Saturday?

What, is that at your school? Naw.

Beverly Hills. Beverly Hills?

Look, you got other homework.

You need to focus on that. I don't want you spending all your time on this game.

It ain't a game! Are you gonna come see me in it?

You know I work at the hospital on Saturday.

Maybe Kiana can go with you.

As long as she don't bring that whiny baby.

Come on, girls, let's go. We're gonna be late.

Dang.

I hope they ain't all here to spell.

Okay, go get your number.

We'll be sitting back here. Good luck, Keelie.

Hi. Name?

Akeelah Anderson.

Right here at the top.

I think you're the first speller we've ever had from Crenshaw Middle School.

Um... how many kids are in this thing?

139.

Next.

Need some help? Don't worry, I won't impale you.

This your first time? Yeah.

You? Second year.

I made it to nationals last year, finished 13th.

Lucky 13.

You went all the way to DC?

Three of us made it from my school in Woodland Hills.

See that kid right there?

That's Dylan Chiu.

He's come in second place at nationals for two years in a row.

This is his last year and everybody thinks he's gonna win.

Frankly, I'd like to shove him off a steep precipice.

Hey, my name is Javier.

I'm Akeelah. Hope you make the top 10.

I hope I'm not the first one out.

Will all the spellers take their positions on stage, please?

Remember, if you don't know how to spell a word, spell it the way it sounds.

Kids mess up all the time when they think they're being thrown curveballs, - and they're not. Good luck. Good luck to you too.

- Thank you. - E...

M...

B-R...

I...

C-A...

T-I-O-N, embrocation.

"Rhesus." Recess?

May I have a definition, please?

A brownish yellow monkey of India.

Ah, rhesus.

R-H-E-S-U-S, rhesus.

That's correct.

Number 54?

"Eminent."

Did you hear the word?

I'm not sure if you're saying imminent or eminent.

Would you like a definition? That'd be cool.

Eminent: rising above other things or places.

High; lofty... eminent.

E-M-I-N-E-N-T, eminent? That's correct.

That's correct.

"Hypertrophic."

H-Y-P-E-R-T-R-O-P-H-I-C, hypertrophic. - That's correct.

That's correct.

"Concierge."

Is that like a guy who stands around in a hotel?

Speak into the mike, please.

And yes, it's a head porter or doorkeeper.

C-O-N-C...

I-E-R-G-E.

That's correct.

You're doing great!

I'm getting lucky.

I could be getting words like... - Polydactyly.

We're down to 11 spellers.

The top 10 qualify for the Southern California regional finals.

In the next round...

if you miss a word do not leave the stage...

as you may have an opportunity to compete for any remaining places.

Kiana, get that baby out of here.

So...

let's begin.

...L-L-O-G-I-Z-E, syllogize.

That's correct.

"Synecdoche."

Si-neck-do-kee?

Synecdoche.

You wanna tell me what that means?

A figure of speech in which a part is used for a whole; an individual for a class; a material for a thing; or the reverse of any of these.

We need you to spell the word.

S...

I...

N...

E...

C...

D-O...

K-E-Y?

Synecdoche?

The correct spelling is S-Y-N-E-C...

D-O-C-H-E.

If you spell this correctly, you'll be our 10th and last finalist.

"Carmagnole."

Could I get a definition, please?

A lively song and street dance.

Um...

C... A...

R...

M... A...

G-N-O-L-E, carmagnole.

That's correct and that means you are our 10th and last finalist for the district bee.

They cheated! They cheated!

I saw them! That boy's mama helped him out.

What... excuse me.

- Who are you? I'm Keelie's sister.

I was standing back there and I saw that boy's mama give him the letter G.

She was saying "geeeee."

He knew the word! I mean... it's one we studied.

- He knew it. Ma'am... did you help your child spell the word?

Ma'am, this is serious business.

Oh, you're damn right it's serious! You are gonna give these kids ulcers!

Do you know how long he has studied for this?

He knew that word. - No, I didn't.

I'm sorry, number 62, you are disqualified from competition.

Which means, number 54, if you can spell one more word correctly you'll be our 10th and last finalist.

"Pastiche."

P-A-S-T-I-C-H-E, pastiche.

That's correct. That means you've qualified for the Southern California regional finals.

Here's my number. We have a spelling club in my school, maybe you should come practice with us sometime. That sounds fun.

Yeah, it's cool. Hey, there's my folks. I'll catch you later.

Okay. Bye. Bye.

Hey, check it out... look at this. They're gonna be at USC this summer.

Just think, Akeelah, all you've got to do is place in the top three of the state regionals, and you're going to Washington DC.

Not if I can't spell synecdoche.

Uh-oh, y'all, look.

I told you to wear a shirt and tie. As long as you live in my house

- you do what I say. What did I say? - Ma...

No drugs, no gangbangin'... Why you stressing me? and no $300 watches. Take it off.

- Derrick-T gave me this. Yes. - He did?

- Then I'm gonna give it right back. Mom?

What?! You two get inside.

Take it off. But, Mama, I made it.

Made what? Made the cut.

I'm going to the regional bee.

While you're doing that, I'm gonna be identifying your brother in the morgue.

- No you're not. Ma... - Yes, I am. Get inside before I really embarrass your behind.

Akeelah? Akeelah, get in here!

It's okay, Mr. Welch.

I'll see you later.

Guess what.

I'm going to the regional bee.


Dylan?

I'm Akeelah.

Javier said I can come and join the study group today.

All those rejects do that.

My father coaches me privately.

Who's your coach?

I don't got one. How many spelling bees have you won?

Just the one at my school.

Spell "xanthosis."

Z-A... - It starts with an X.

If that idiot hadn't been caught cheating you wouldn't have made the cut.

"Euphoric." Euphoric is an adjective.

Origin Greek.

It means like feeling great and everything.

Either spell the word or take a shot.

If you miss either one you get a strike. Three strikes, you're out.

Euphoric, E-U...

P-H-O-R-I-C... euphoric. "Psoriasis."

Are you taking Latin at your school? Psoriasis is a noun, origin Greek.

Are you kidding? My school barely has enough money for kickballs.

There's no Latin classes. Latin helps you understand words.

Psoriasis is like itchy skin.

Maybe your mom could drive you up here to take it with us.

I don't know. This is all starting to sound real heavy.

It is heavy. Spelling bees are serious shit.

I think I'll take a shot.

On second thought, could I spell the word?

At Crenshaw they think I'm a freak.

Don't worry. They think we're freaks here too.

Hey, there's my mom. Need a ride?

Oh... naw. My mom's gonna pick me up.

She should be here soon.

Hey, I'm having a birthday party in a few weeks.

You want to come?

Maybe. If I can.

It was cool seeing you again, Akeelah. Bye.

Bye.


Where the hell have you been?

Studying. Studying where?

Woodland Hills. Woodland Hills?

What you doing there?

They got a spelling club.

Did Mr. Welch take you? 'Cause ain't nobody call me.

I went by myself. I didn't think the bus ride would take so long.

I'm sorry. Akeelah Anderson!

You done lost your mind? You 11 years old.

You don't be taking a bus to Woodland Hills by yourself.

There's nobody around to take me. That's 'cause I work.

That's what you said on the weekend.

All the other kids have their parents at the district bee.

Maybe the other kids have parents who got more time on their hands.

Look, I'm not having another child of mine disappearing at all hours.

So if this spelling thing means sneaking off to the suburbs by yourself, I'm calling it all off. We can't call it off!

I'm going to the regional bee. Not if you flunk out of school.

I just got a letter saying you gotta take summer school to make up for all these classes you skipped. But, Mama, I hate Crenshaw!

It is so boring there and nobody cares.

But you think they care about you in Woodland Hills?

At least they got Latin classes and the kids don't have to study in their stairwells.

Good for them. But until you finish summer school at Crenshaw ain't gonna be no more spelling bees. But, Mama, I got to get ready for the state bee during the summer.

You just gonna have to do that next year, now, aren't you?

But that's not fair! Not only is it fair, it's final.

You'd let me do it.


1979, maculature:

M-A-C-U-L-A-T-U-R-E. Origin is Latin.

1990, fibranne: F-I-B-R-A-N-N-E. French.

1996, vivisepulture: V-I-V-I-S-E-P-U-L-T-U-R-E.

Latin.

I learned all the winning words since 1925 just like you said I should.

Sorry for being so insolent last time.

That's not gonna happen no more.

Any... more.

I promise.

I was wondering if you might reconsider coaching me for the state bee.

'Cause I need a coach.

Bad.

Badly. You need a coach badly.

Come in.

Come in, come in.

That's a very pretty lady. Is she your wife?

Listen, you got very lucky at the district bee.

The competition at state level is much stronger.

So if you... and I were to prepare for that, we'd have to do it on my schedule.

So we'd have to work three hours each morning starting at 9:00.

- Can you handle that? Well, I do have summer school.

But Mr. Welch said working with you could take the place of it.

Isn't that for students who don't perform satisfactorily during the year?

Well, sometimes it's for kids want to get ahead for next year. Yes, please put that down.

Just... yeah.

Have you... have you got any goals?

Hmm? - Goals... what would you like to be when you grow up?

A doctor, a lawyer, a standup comic.

I don't know. The only thing I'm good at is spelling.

Go over there and read the quotation that's on the wall.

Read it aloud please.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

We ask ourselves

'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? '

Actually, who are you not to be?

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

Does that mean anything to you?

I don't know. It's written in plain English.

What does it mean?

That I'm not supposed to be afraid. Afraid of what?

Afraid of...

me?

This national spelling bee is a tough nut.

I've seen it chew kids up and spit them out.

So if you want to get there you can't be a shrinking violet.

You have to stand up and show them what you can do.

All right?

And I'll brook no nonsense. You show up on time with no attitude or it's over.

Agreed?

Agreed.

Here it is, here it is. Stop stop stop stop.

Girl, Mom would trip if she knew we borrowed the car for this.

That's why Mama ain't gonna know.

Come on, Georgia.

Um...

I'm gonna go to the mall with Kiana.

But I thought you wanted to go to this party.

Hey, Akeelah!

Are you sure? Yeah.

Come on, let's go.

How are you? Oh, thank you.

- Why'd you invite him? - My dad's friends with his dad.

I'm surprised he showed up. Hey, you want to see my house?

Yeah. Let's go.

This is my father's office.

He's a journalist and he's written like a bunch of books.

What's your father do?

My daddy... he used to work for the city parks.

Man, you got a lot of friends.

I never had a birthday party this big.

I'd think you'd have lots of friends.

Why'd you do that? I had an impulse.

Are you gonna sue me for sexual harassment?

That was fun.

What are they doing down there?

Oh no, Dylan brought his Scrabble games.

Scrabble?

I get 30 seconds for each board.

We need one more. Who wants to play?

I will.

And right out of the gate, Roman scores 32 points with "birch" on the double-word score.

Dylan counters with the immediate use of Z for 39 big ones.

Polly tests the water with "acorn."

And Dylan answers with a body blow: "beacon" for 20.

Holy cannoli.

Right off the bat, Akeelah uses all her letters getting 50 extra points for a whopping 82.

What will Dylan do?

He's fighting the clock.

You could cut the tension with a butter knife.

Shut up.

Shazam!

Dylan gets his own bingo for 76 points.

It's come down to this. After having crushed all five opponents, Dylan has only Akeelah to beat.

But she's ahead by 21 and has only a few letters left.

Is this an upset in the making?

What kind of birthday party is this?

Yowza! Using the triple word score, Dylan charges ahead by six.

Just go.

Booyah! Akeelah's in the lead by 12 points and had only one letter left.

But this could be Dylan's final play.

Arrivederci, sweetheart.

12 points ties the game, but Dylan gets Akeelah's last two points.

He wins a heartbreaker.

Wow, Akeelah. No one ever gets that close to beating Dylan.

But I didn't beat him.

Girl, you passed up the mall to play Scrabble?

She just got lucky.

If you can barely beat a little black girl at a silly board game, how do you expect to win the national bee?

Listen!

We're not coming in second again this year.

We're going to win.

Let's go.

"He began to have a dim feeling that to attain his place in the world he must be himself and not another."

Dr. Larabee, this book is too heavy.

Good. It'll develop your arm muscles.

I thought we were developing my vocabulary.

We are. Please continue reading.

But I already know most of the words in this speech.

It's not a speech. It's an essay.

By WEB DuBois, the first black man to receive a PhD from Harvard University.

Maybe we should be studying more big words.

Spell "cabalistic." C-A-B-A-L-I-S-T-I-C, cabalistic. And when did you learn that one?

About two minutes ago in this book.

But in the time it took to learn that one word, Dylan probably learned 20.

And those 20 words won't mean anything to him.

He's just a little robot memorizing lists of words.

The people we are studying: DuBois, Dr. King, JFK, these people used words to change the world.

...the world... And they didn't acquire their vocabulary by rote memorization.

Okay. But when I'm at the bee, and they tell me to spell some little fish from Australia or some weird bacteria on the moon, we're gonna wish we'd done a little bit more rote memorizing and not so much essay reading... if you don't mind me saying.

Bacteria don't exist on the moon.

Let me ask you something.

Where do you think big words come from?

People with big brains.

All right, what do you see?

A bunch of big words I don't know.

Ah, look again.

What kind of power do we get from the sun?

Solar. So what does "sol" mean?

Sun. What does "terraneous" sound like?

Terrain. Meaning the earth.

"Soliterraneous" means the sun and the earth working together. So where do big words come from?

Little words. And how many little words do you know?

Tons. Yes!

And there are tons more for you to learn.

There are Greek ones.

There are Latin ones.

French ones. And if you learn them all, you can spell any word, no matter how big.

Maybe we should get back to the essay reading.

What's the matter? I thought you wanted to... win the national spelling bee.

Maybe just getting there this time is good enough.

Don't give me that.

You want to win it so badly it keeps you up at night.

Ever since you found out there was such a thing as the national spelling bee you've seen yourself holding up that trophy, but if you can't say it, you can't win it. So say it.

I want to win. Say it louder please.

I want to win. You want to win what?

I want to win the national spelling bee!

Good. Good.

You'll win using my methods.

By first understanding the power of language, then by deconstructing it, breaking it down to its origins, to its roots, you'll consume it. You will own it.

And then you know what you'll be?

Mm-hmm. Tired.

You'll be a champion.

Are you ready? I'm ready.

All right, let's go.


Um, why are you home so early?

Just wasn't feeling well.

What you got there?

Homework.

You know, the regional bee is coming up soon and I was wondering if you might want...

Is that gonna happen in Beverly Hills too?

I don't know. I told you, you pass summer school then you can start worrying about the spelling bee.

But if you would... Akeelah.

Baby, I'm just not in the mood, all right?

So how come you don't teach anymore?

I told you I do teach. I...

I administer classes online.

Let's keep going.

"Effervescent." E-F-F...

E-R-V-E...

S-E-N-T, effervescent. Come on, you know this word.

That dog's distracting me.

You're gonna have much bigger distractions when you get to the national bee in DC.

Now what is that you're doing with your hand, hmm?

What?

With your hand, your hand?

You... you... you... you tap, like that. What is that? I don't know.

So why do you got all these toys for?

They belonged to my niece.

Oh. So you got any kids of your own?

You ask a lot of questions, don't you?

I'm naturally inquisitive.

Which is also sometimes confused with being naturally obnoxious. Here.

Let me see you jump rope.

Just jump? Yes, just jump.

Is there a point to this?

Yes, there is. Keep going.

I said keep going.

Concentrate. Stay focused.

Spell effervescent. Don't think about anything else. Come on.

Go.

E-F-F-E...

R-V-E-S... Good!

C-E-N-T, effervescent. You see that? That's your trick.

That's your mnemonic device. Jumping rope?

Keeping time, keeping time.

You see kids at the bee... they do all kinds of things.

They... they sway back and forth. They... turn around, turn around in circles.

Anything they have to do to stay focused.

You keep time. And I bet you if you learned the words while you kept time you would remember them even better.

...L-U-N-I-Z-E.

"Quamdiu."

Q-U-A-M-D-I-U. Good.

Cognizant.

C-O-G-

N-I-Z-A-N-T.

Correct. "Tzigane."

T-Z-I-G-A-N-E.

Correct.

It's too bad your mother had to work today, Akeelah.

Did she get to see the new dress?

Uh, yeah. She thought it was cool. Oh, there goes Javier.

This is a very exciting day for us here because our top three spellers will be representing Southern California at the national spelling bee in Washington DC.

Yes!

So what do you say? Let's spell!

Well, Josh, you think she's got a shot at it?

We'll see.

"Alfresco." A-L-F-R-E-S-C-O, alfresco. - That's correct.

Loquacious.

Espadrille.

Jambalaya.

Could you repeat the word, please?

Malloseismic.

M...

A-I...

O...

S-E...

I-S-M-I-C.

Malloseismic is...

M-A-L-I...

O-S-E-I-S-M-I-C.

It's all right. It's all right.

D-O-U-B-L-U-R-E.

That's correct.

"Psalmody."

Definition please.

- Psalmody means the practice... Mrs. Anderson.