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>
Near the beginning of the movie, when Josh's mom picks him up from school, the shorter, brown-haired woman she is seen talking with briefly is the mother of the real Josh Waitzkin. See more »
The filled-out certificate that Bruce gives to Josh is explicitly dated 1993 (when Josh would have been 16 or 17). 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.
Chess is a challenging game that hasn't been given its due in the art of cinema, so it's a pity "Searching for Bobby Fischer", one of the few "chess movies" out there, offers an unconvincing, Hollywoodized treatment of the subject. This is one of those completely conventional, crowd-pleasing entertainments that make everything look too easy (it almost argues that one doesn't need to practice or study to become really good at something, as long as he has a natural gift for it; I'm sure the real Josh Waitzkin would dismiss all that as pure baloney), and rely on a predictable "Rocky"-type final showdown (in this case, against a mean-spirited little chess whiz). Nonetheless, with such a splendid cast (including an excellent performance by newcomer Max Pomeranc), it would be impossible for this film not to have its interesting and affecting moments. (**1/2)
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