The poetry slam documentary "Louder than a Bomb" feels both fresh and familiar - sometimes at the same time.

The poetry slam documentary "Louder than a Bomb" feels both fresh and familiar - sometimes at the same time.

It bears more than a passing similarity in structure to the superlative spelling bee documentary "Spellbound," among others, but then there's nothing that rivals the electrifying performances found in "Bomb."

It follows four high school poetry teams participating in Chicago's citywide Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam.

From the inner-city Steinmenauts team to the ponytailed Jewish hippie kid Adam Gottlieb, these kids pour their passion into both their writing and the energetic performances that make "slam" an apt title.

Directors Greg Jacobs (a Columbus native ) and Jon Siskel (Gene's nephew) do a fine job with a whirlwind introduction to both the world of poetry slams and the film's participants.

It's a joyful and affirming affair, celebrating poetry as an outlet for the pains of youth.

It's slightly less successful at getting into the lives of the kids. The interviews are remarkably candid, but the shifting focus from participant to participant may leave you wanting a little more depth on one or two poets.

The most irresistible star may be Gottlieb, whose writing talent is superseded only by his delivery.

In the end, it's those breathless and exhilarating performances that make this a must-see doc.