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Spellbound | 2003 | G | - 0.0.1

Documentary feature that follows eight children as they win regional Spelling Bee competitions to finally face each other (and two hundred or so other winners) in the 1999 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee finals in Washington, D.C. The featured spellers come from different backgrounds, parts of the country and social classes, and they are Harry Altman, Ted Brigham, Neil Kadakia, Emily Stagg, Angela Arenivar, April Degideo, Nupur Lala and Ashley White -- one of them does win the national prize. Directed by Jeff Blitz. [1:37]

SEX/NUDITY 0 - None.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 0 - There's no violence, but the tension and stress of competitions are palpable. Children are shown outside their school and we hear that there was a bomb threat so they had to evacuate.


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LANGUAGE 1 - One mild scatological term.


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SUBSTANCE USE - One of the speller's mothers smokes cigarettes.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Competitions and competitiveness, pressure, stress, racism, social class, opportunity, goals, illegal immigration, work ethic, smart kids, family, poverty, depressed Midwestern towns, principle, character, pessimism, optimism, anti-intellectualism, religious faith, chanting and praying.

MESSAGE - The greatest achievement is to try hard to succeed, especially under economic and social circumstances that are disadvantageous; that's even more important than winning. Smart kids are often lonely.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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