Spellbound - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Spellbound Reviews

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Ronnie Scheib
Variety
April 1, 2009
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Derek Adams
Time Out
June 24, 2006
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Richard Nilsen
Arizona Republic
July 16, 2003
Spellbound is not a great piece of filmmaking, but it is more entertaining than you might expect from a story whose heroes are all brainiacs.
| Original Score: 3/5
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 3, 2003
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
June 27, 2003
Spellbound finds its thrills with nary a chase scene nor a quick cut; it's a simple and utterly gripping story about kids, words and a microphone.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Michael Booth
Denver Post
June 13, 2003
When a child stands at the microphone and frantically writes invisible letters on her hand, we can't help but love each and every one of these people.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
June 13, 2003
A genuinely charming and often funny documentary about the high-pressured world of competitive spelling.
| Original Score: B
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Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
June 6, 2003
Whatever else it may be, this is also a film about being young, hopeful and focused.
| Original Score: 4/5
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
June 6, 2003
An unpretentious classic of the form.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post
June 2, 2003
It makes having brains cool.
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
June 2, 2003
Just might be the most action-packed suspense thriller of the summer.
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
June 2, 2003
One of the many pleasures in Spellbound is watching the reactions of these young brainiacs.
| Original Score: 3/4
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May 30, 2003
Spellbound is a gorgeous weave.
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Peter Rainer
New York Magazine/Vulture
May 30, 2003
Entertaining documentary.
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
May 30, 2003
Jeff Blitz's delightful documentary on the National Spelling Bee and its grammar-school competitors will win your heart.
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Tom Long
Detroit News
May 29, 2003
There is something so purely and positively American about Spellbound that it is indeed spellbinding.
| Original Score: A-
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
May 29, 2003
All of the kids and their stories are remarkably compelling.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
May 29, 2003
I love this movie, and I love the pride, spirit and sportsmanship of the kids who represent the best of American pluck and luck.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
May 29, 2003
This is a great sports movie that doesn't need a field, a court or a ball.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
May 29, 2003
Begins with the unlikely dramatic material of a children's spelling competition and turns it into a gripping and inspirational tale.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
May 29, 2003
It's a commendable attempt to bring an overlooked and fascinating subject to the screen, but the approach is surface oriented and perfunctory, and I didn't really find myself moved, edified, or enlightened by the experience.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
May 29, 2003
Spellbound's raw material is so innately charming that there wasn't much for Blitz to do besides show up.
| Original Score: B
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Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
May 23, 2003
You find yourself not only rooting for the kids to make it from one end of 'heuristic' to the other without incident, but for their parents to make it without keeling over.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Carla Meyer
San Francisco Chronicle
May 23, 2003
Director Jeff Blitz's riveting, inspiring documentary Spellbound resembles a Christopher Guest movie in that it follows obsessed, socially awkward folks on a seminal journey in their lives.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
May 23, 2003
What makes the picture engaging is the extended preamble, where director Jeff Blitz zeroes in on eight contestants and serves up a mini-profile of each.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
May 22, 2003
Who would have thought that following eight kids as they prepare for and compete in a national spelling bee could be so riveting?
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
May 19, 2003
... one of the most entertaining and involving documentaries of the last few years.
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Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
May 16, 2003
Who would have thought that a nonfiction film about spelling bees, for God's sake, would be more mesmerizing than expensive fictional flicks with oodles and oodles of production values and special effects?
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
May 16, 2003
We cheer for all of these kids, because it is so easy to remember the pain of getting something wrong in front of the whole class.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Mark Caro
Chicago Tribune
May 15, 2003
These determined, sometimes-obsessed kids stick with you, presenting a portrait of America as a melting pot unified in determination and a hefty serving of alphabet soup.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
May 14, 2003
Blitz's affectionate visual wit and instinctive dramatic flair as he carries us through the finals make this a delightful account of American class ambition, albeit with a dark undertow.
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
May 14, 2003
Whether from a Texas ranch, a Missouri trailer park or a Washington, D.C., housing project, these spellers define something unique about the American character.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
May 7, 2003
The documentarian keeps his story rooted in battle and suspense, and we cheer wholeheartedly for every nervous warrior.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
April 30, 2003
The eight stories entwine to form a fascinating portrait of a group of young people and their families, in which the peculiar, anachronistic spelling-bee subculture becomes a window into contemporary American society.
| Original Score: 4.5/5
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
April 30, 2003
A very slick yet entertaining documentary.
| Original Score: 2/4
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Ed Park
Village Voice
April 29, 2003
Each participant has unique appeal.