7.5/10
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Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)

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A prepubescent chess prodigy refuses to harden himself in order to become a champion like the famous but unlikable Bobby Fischer.

Director:

Steven Zaillian

Writers:

Fred Waitzkin (book), Steven Zaillian (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Set during the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.

Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Max Pomeranc ... Josh Waitzkin
Joe Mantegna ... Fred Waitzkin
Joan Allen ... Bonnie Waitzkin
Ben Kingsley ... Bruce Pandolfini
Laurence Fishburne ... Vinnie
Michael Nirenberg Michael Nirenberg ... Jonathan Poe
Robert Stephens ... Poe's Teacher
David Paymer ... Kalev
Hal Scardino ... Morgan
Vasek Simek Vasek Simek ... Russian Park Player
William H. Macy ... Tunafish Father
Dan Hedaya ... Tournament Director
Laura Linney ... School Teacher
Anthony Heald ... Fighting Parent
Steven Randazzo Steven Randazzo ... Man of Many Signals
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Storyline

Josh Waitzkin is just a typical American boy interested in baseball when one day he challenges his father at chess and wins. Showing unusual precocity at the outdoor matches at Washington Square in New York City, he quickly makes friends with a hustler named Vinnie who teaches him speed chess. Josh's parents hire a renowned chess coach, Bruce, who teaches Josh the usefulness of measured planning. Along the way Josh becomes tired of Bruce's system and chess in general and purposely throws a match, leaving the prospects of winning a national championship in serious jeopardy. Written by Rick Gregory <rag.apa@email.apa.org>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Every journey begins with a single move.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 August 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Innocent Moves See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,266,383
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mirage Enterprises See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joshua Waitzkin is depicted as the next Bobby Fischer in this movie and a genius chess prodigy. However, the portrayal is immensely exaggerated. Although he became an International Master at the age of sixteen (a title which most top players manage to attain much earlier, at the age of twelve to fourteen) he never managed to gain the top tier title of Grandmaster. Also, the peak Fide Elo Rating he reached was 2480 in 1998 at the age of twenty-two, which was then more than three hundred rating points lower than Garry Kasparov, who, at the time, topped the rankings. Last, but not least, there are currently (May 2017) 1,453 players all over the world rated higher than Joshua Waitzkin, and eighty-two in the U.S. See more »

Goofs

Ben Kingsley portrays Bruce Pandolfini as speaking with an Irish accent. Pandolfini is a New Yorker of Italian and Jewish heritage, and has no such accent. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Josh Waitzkin: [about Bobby Fischer] In the days before the event, the whole world wondered if he would show up. Plane after plane waited on the runway, while he napped, took walks, and ate sandwiches. Henry Kissinger called and asked him to go for his country's honor. Soon after arriving, he offended the Icelanders by calling their country inadequate because it had no bowling alleys. He complained about the TV cameras, about the lighting, about the table and chairs, and the contrast of the ...
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Alternate Versions

The original film ends with a title card stating that Josh still plays chess
  • along with several other activities, indicating that he has a well-rounded life. When the film was broadcast on NBC in 1996, this title card was updated: it now stated that Josh was working to become a grandmaster, and that he now considered Jack Kerouac, not Bobby Fischer, to be his primary influence.
See more »


Soundtracks

Enough Is Enough
Written by Anthony Criss, Kier Gist, Vincent Brown, A. Bahr, J Ray
Performed by Rottin Razkals
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant intelligently sensitive drama
6 August 2004 | by BadWebDiverSee all my reviews

Let me start by saying I am not a person who goes for sentimental, "heart on your sleeve" type big dramas that seem to be the idol of most professional critics. In fact, to put it bluntly I totally loathe them. (I prefer movies that at least try to have a cohesive plot line with a reasonably accessible story idea and some decent tight pacing; ie: something that's both informative and fun. This is my interpretation of the classic idea of "a good story, well told".)

With that in mind, I wish to state that this movie (film, whatever) really does work, at all levels. It's a good intelligent story (apparently based on fact} about a very bright, very young kid who is discovered to be naturally good at chess and enters the serious national tournaments. During which time, there are raised issues of the concept of the winning ethos; and keeping (or losing) your humanity in the process.

This cast is magnificent here. The central leads are played by Joe Mantegna and Max Pomerance as the father and son respectively. Both give very well-balanced performances. Sensitive, without being sappy. Max in particular is very good, especially in the dramatic climax of the film; which he handles with total dignity. It could have been so over the top and patronizing in lesser hands, but this time it isn't.

They are ably supported by Laurence Fishburne and Ben Kingsley as two different types of coaches, from "opposite side of the tracks" (sorry for that old cliché). It may seem formulaic, but in this case the dramatic contrasts works surprisingly well, and both come over as intelligent representatives of their particular points of view. And there are also great character moments by David Paymer {QUIZ SHOW, MR Saturday NIGHT, etc} and Hal Scardino {THE Indian IN THE CUPBOARD} as well.

Over all, I would highly commend this film as the type of story that manages to tread the fine line between intelligent ideas and an entertaining story. I recommend it to everyone. Give it half a chance and it can work for you. It really is a great example of intelligently entertaining!


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