Angela Bassett, Curtis Armstrong, Laurence Fishburne and Keke Palmer in Akeelah and the Bee
Inexplicably released as a two-disc set from (gulp) Criterion, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) is wafer-thin stone-faced “comedy” from Wes Anderson. Going over my Netflix ratings, I see that I gave each of his earlier movies one star apiece. (Don’t ask me what they were about, for I can’t remember a frame from any of them.) Following their lead, watching The Life Aquatic is like being trapped in an elevator with an overage adolescent who’s meandering incessantly over nothing of value or substance, yet who thinks he’s being terribly witty—without quite knowing or caring about the definition of that word.
I’m not sure what the impetus was for renting Supergirl (1984)—all the brouhaha over the new Spiderman, perhaps? Still, one imagined it would be good for the proverbial shits and giggles. My bad. Without an ounce of humor and seemingly unaware of its built-in camp appeal (Faye Dunaway, Peter Cook, Brenda Vaccaro and Peter O’Toole fill the cast), clocking in at a coma-inducing 125-minutes, it’s a fat catalog of misspent opportunities. And Helen Slater, despite her youth, beauty and physique, is rather cold and sexless as the girl from Argo City.
It has three wearying movie montages too many, and a handful of clichés that sting, but Akeelah and the Bee (2006) is an engaging and heartfelt family film concerned with education and achievement. Seventh grader Akeelah (Keke Palmer) transcends her impoverished neighborhood to tackle the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Contrived and rigged to be sure, but yours truly—a dyed-in-the-wool, teary-eyed and sniveling pantywaist of the highest order—went reaching for his hankies more than once.