Spellbound

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High strung, nail-biting, intense competition of spelling bees! No really, it’s true!

A documentary that follows eight 8th graders as they go to compete in the 1999 National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. I can’t find the information anywhere now, but I thought I read when this movie came out that they randomly picked the kids to follow, so they may or may not have even made the cut to the National Spelling Bee. I don’t know how much that is true, or if they only show ones that actually make it to the finals. After they make it there though, you don’t know who, or if any, of the eight will actually win.

At first, I found the back story on the kids interesting since it is the only way you are going to be invested in them going to the spelling bee. Also, it was interesting to see the various backgrounds of the kids. By the time, we were learning about the 8th kid, I was getting tired of it and just wanted to watch the spelling bee part of it. I couldn’t remember how many kids we had seen at that point, so I’m glad he was the last one and it finally moved onto the competition.

The competition was the best part and boy did I feel dumb. I had no idea what some of the words were and the questions the kids asked, like origin of the word, and so forth amazed me. While watching it, I was wondering what some of the kids would look like today since it was 1999 and one kid was so incredibly spazzy. On the DVD, it had a “Where Are They Now?” section that showed more current pictures (from 2003) and a bit about each of them. Thankfully spazzy kid grew up to look normal.

I really thought it was going to be parents pushing their kids to do the spelling bees, but it looked like it was the kids’ idea for the most part. Some of them looked relieved that it would end after this last one, but most of them were just super competitive on their own. I think I would have liked it better, if it didn’t drag so much in the beginning, but enjoyed the second half of it more. It is still only 95 minutes so it goes by quickly either way.

Rating: B

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