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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Max Pomeranc was chosen because he is, in real-life, a chess player (or was at the time of this movie). The producers wanted someone who would be at ease and "correctly" playing chess. None of this movie's other stars played chess in the beginning, but eventually Joe Mantegna learned. See more »
Vinnie is holding the McDonald's cup with his fingertips and thumb. In the next shot, Vinnie's hand is wrapped around most of the cup. See more »
[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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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.
There are few movies I would call perfect in terms of script, photography, performance, and continuity. This is one of them. I have watched this film at least 8 times, and have seen something new in it every time.
This is based on a true story, and it is much more than a movie about parents demanding time, effort, and sacrifice of a child chess prodigy. This is about a seven-year-old boy who knows who he is, and resists adults attempts to make him into someone he is not. Max Pomeranc gives about the best performance I have ever seen by a child actor in the role of Joshua Waitzkin. Fortunately, Josh has a mother (played by Joan Allen) who recognizes Josh's innate goodness and protects him from those who want to change him. This movie is about a father (Joe Mangtegna) learning to respect and appreciate who his son is, instead of trying to make him into something he isn't.
I had seen the movie three times before I understood the title. The adults are searching for "the next Bobbie Fischer" (a television reporter in the film uses those words). Josh Waitzkin asserts to his teacher "I'm not him."
Watch this movie with your children!
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